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Roman Ruins of Philippi

Last updated on
7 /10

Place overview

Roman Ruins of Philippi
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Located in Eastern Macedonia, the archaeological site at Philippi contains fantastic Greek, Macedonian, and Roman ruins.

History

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Philippi was founded by settlers from the Greek island of Thassos in approximately 360 BC. A few years after its founding, the city was captured by Philip II, the Macedonian king and father of Alexander the Great. In 168 BC, the Roman Republic defeated the Antigonid Kingdom in the Third Macedonia War and took control of cities like Philippi.

During the flashpoints surrounding the murder of Julius Caesar and the ensuing civil war, Philippi became the site of one of the most pivotal battles in Roman history. Octavian and Marc Anthony, Caesar's loyal successors, triumphed over their rivals Brutus and Cassius just outside the city.

After Octavian became the first emperor Augustus in 27 BC, Philippi experienced an influx of Roman veterans and settlers. Philippi was one of the major cities located on the Via Egnatia, a vital road that linked Rome's Greek and Balkan territories to the rest of the empire. It was also strategically important because of its gold mines. Although some Romanization took place, most of the Macedonian city was left untouched.

A forum was built on either side of the main road, not far from a Greek agora that had been the center of the Macedonian city. Construction on the forum started under the reign of the emperor Claudius and continued in various forms until the middle of the 1st Century AD.

Philippi remained a part of various empires for centuries, including the Byzantines, until it was later abandoned. It was also one of the earlier Christian centers of the later Roman empire.


Site features

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Philippi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing several surviving Macedonian and Roman structures. Some sections of the ancient city walls still stand today, spanning 3.5 kilometers out from the central acropolis, which also survives.

Philippi also has an amphitheater originally built by Philip II. The Romans modified the amphitheater sometime between the 2nd and 3rd Centuries AD. The remains of the Roman forum and a market known as a macellum can also be visited, along with the surviving section of the Via Egnatia.

Two basilicas and an octagonal episcopal church also remain as landmarks of the Christian faith at Philippi. These structures were built at various times during the 4th and 5th Centuries AD.

A museum is also present on the site. The bottom floor houses finds from Philippi's ancient Macedonian and Roman periods, while the top floor holds artifacts from the Christian era.


Visiting information and tips

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The modern city nearest to Philippi is Kavala. The city is perched on the coast of Eastern Macedonia and has an international airport. Kavala is also connected by several bus routes to Athens.

Philippi's archaeological site is approximately 25 minutes drive from Kavala via the EO12 road. There are also bus routes available.

Entrance to the site costs €6 for adults, with a reduced rate of €3 for EU students or citizens over 65. This ticket covers entrance to the ruins as well as the museum.


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