Vergina

Macedonia

The discovery of the Royal Tombs in 1977 at the archaeological site of Vergína, some 13km (8 miles) from the town of Veroia, was the most exciting archaeological happening in Greece in the 20th century. It rivalled Schliemann’s unearthing of the tombs at Mycenae in the 19th century. 

The Entrance to the Royal Tombs at VerginaThe Entrance to the Royal Tombs at Vergina

Discoverer of the Royal Tombs

The discovery was made by Professor Manolis Andronikos (1919-1992), who uncovered an entrance to a tomb. Unlike the over-confident Schliemann, he did not claim to know in advance what lay inside the tomb. In fact what he had found was the burial place of King Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. The skeleton of this Macedonian King was complete, and contained inside a golden funeral casket, on top of which was the emblem of the Macedonian star. These amazing finds are now among the highlights of the Archaeological Museum in Thessaloníki.

The Entrance to the Royal Tombs at Vergina, Macedonia, Greece

Vergina Museum

The finding of the tombs led to a flurry of activity in the area, and a great deal of archaeological work. A first class new museum was built, as soon as it was possible to allow visitors to view the tombs, which are on display behind protective glass.

The first of the two main tombs found by Professor Andronikos had been looted long ago, but the second contained priceless treasures. They also rewrote the history books, as it had long been thought that the Macedonian Kings had been buried at Edessa.

The Assassination of King Philip II

In addition to the tombs (and there are other minor ones nearby), here too is the site of the Palace of Palatitsia, which post-dates Philip II and Alexander and was probably built in the 3rd century BC as a summer palace for the then King, Antigonus Gonatus. The remains are not spectacular, although the extent of the site is. Much more interesting is the nearby theatre, which is much older and is thought to be where Philip II was assassinated, possibly at the instigation of his own son, Alexander.

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.

  • 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.

  • The Site of Ancient Pella in Macedonia, Greece

    Pella in Macedonia is famous for its mosaics and was also the birthplace of both King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great.

  • 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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