Pella

Macedonia

Straddling the main road that runs from northwest Greece to Thessaloníki is the unassuming-looking site of Pella. As you approach, it is hard to believe how important this once was, but it was at one time the capital of Macedonia. More than that, it could be regarded as the first capital of the state that was recognisably modern Greece. 

Archaeological site of Pella in Macedonia, Greece, repinned from https://www.greece-travel-secrets.com/Pella.html

King Philip II

Pella was the capital of King Philip II of what was then called Macedon, and when Philip defeated the Greek armies in 338 BC he united under his banner for the first time the various city-states that until then had been almost constantly at war with each other, creating a union which covered much of what is now modern Greece.

Pella was not only the capital of King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great, it is also where both of them were born.

Archaeological site of Pella in Macedonia, Greece, repinned from https://www.greece-travel-secrets.com/Pella.html

Pella's Mosaics

More than for its historical significance, though, there is one over-riding reason for visiting Pella and that is to see the magnificent mosaics that have survived here. They are easily among the finest ever to have been discovered in Greece, and some are still in situ. These are naturally protected from the elements, and mostly date from about 300 BC, not long after the death of Alexander the Great.

In addition to their historical significance and huge scale, they are also exquisite works of art. Many of them depict hunting scenes, including naked hunters attacking a lion with clubs and swords, a deer being attacked by a griffin, the hunting of a stag and what is regarded as the finest mosaic of them all, the God Dionysos riding a panther.

The House of the Lion Hunt

Many of these are the floor mosaics in what is called the House of the Lion Hunt, which is thought to have been an official building of some kind. It had 12 rooms ranged around three open courtyards, and was some 90m long and 50m across.

There are the remains of more modest buildings around it on the site, from which a sense of the living city can be gained. Across the modern main road is the site museum, which contains several more mosaics that have been removed from the site, as well as statues, ceramics and other items found there.

See our other Macedonia pages...

  • Northern Greece Guide

    The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

  • The Royal Tombs and Archaeological Site of Vergina in Macedonia

    The archaeological site of Vergina in Macedonia is famous for the royal tombs which were the burial place of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.

  • Thessaloniki

    The capital of Macedonia and Greece’s second city, Thessaloníki has a lovely situation by the water, a wealth of history, many good museums, and good food.

  • The Prespa Lakes in Northern Greece

    The Prespa Lakes in northwest Greece is one of the most beautiful parts of Greece with abundant wildlife and also many ancient churches.

  • Scenic Drives in Northern Greece

    Scenic Drives in Northern Greece, Ioannina, Meteora, Kastoria, Prespa Lakes

  • Philippi

    Philippi is an ancient archaeological site near Kavala in East Macedonia and Thrace and is famous for being the place where the apostle St Paul was imprisoned.

  • Museums of Thessaloniki

    The Greek city of Thessaloniki in Macedonia has an array of wonderful museums and art galleries, and here's twelve of the best.

  • Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece

    Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is in the Mount Olympus National Park in Macedonia, with Litochoro being the best base.

  • Mount Athos

    Visiting Mount Athos in Greece requires a permit, but you can see the monasteries on a boat trip around the peninsula, known as the Monks' Republic.

  • Mount Athos Boat Trips

    Mount Athos boat trips are very popular with visitors to Halkidiki in Greece, as they are the only way most people get to see these spectacular monasteries.

  • Macedonia and Thrace

    Macedonia and Thrace are the regions in Greece where travelers will find Thessaloniki, Mount Athos monasteries, Halkidiki and sites like Dion and Pella.

  • Kavala

    The city of Kavala in eastern Macedonia is the area's major seaport and the base for ferries to the islands of the North East Aegean, including Thasos.

  • Kastoria

    Kastoria is a lakeside town in West Macedonia which prospered with the fur trade and today has some handsome mansions, museums and many Byzantine churches.

  • Halkidikí

    Halkidiki is a three-pronged peninsula near Thessaloniki in Macedonia which comprises Mount Athos and the holiday resorts on Kassandra and Sithonia.

  • Dion

    Dion is a rather wonderful archaeological site in Macedonia, not far from Thessaloniki, with an archaeological museum nearby in the town of Dion.

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