Vergina

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.

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, GreeceThe Entrance to the Royal Tombs at Vergina

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.

A brand new museum was inaugurated in 2023, and along with the tombs and the Parthenon (see below), this has become one of the most significant sites in the country.

The Parthenon of Macedonia

In early 2024 a new part of the site was opened to the public after 16 years of restoration work costing around 20 million euros. This is the palace of King Philip II, that was built during his reign and has been called the Parthenon of Macedonia. It's regarded as one of the most important buildings of Classical Greece, ranking alongside the Parthenon in Athens but three times its size.

Our Pick of the Guides to Greece

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