Reopening of the Millennium Palace of Alexander the Great

On 22/01/2024 0

In Travel Guides

After a period of intensive restoration, the reopening of the ancient site of Alexander's Palace was inaugurated on January 5, 2024. Covering an area of 15,000 square meters, it is located near the village of Vergina and houses a museum and the tombs of the Macedonian kings, including that of Philip II.

The ancient palace of King Philip II, considered the largest and one of the most important buildings in Classical Greece along with the Parthenon, is now open to the public after 16 years of extensive restoration.

Alexander's Palace re-opened

On January 5, 2024, the ancient site of Alexander's Palace was re-opened following intensive restoration.

Covering 15,000 m² near the village of Vergina, it houses a museum and Macedonian tombs, including that of Philip II.

King Philip II's ancient palace, one of the largest and most important buildings in classical Greece along with the Parthenon, is open to the public after sixteen years of restoration.

Located in the first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia, Aigai, this 4th century BC treasure was also the palace where King Alexander the Great was crowned.

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Opening hours of Archaeological Site of Aigai

The Aigai Palace site is open to visitors on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Closed on Tuesday.

Discovering the site

The archaeological site of Aigai, now called Vergina, is located in northern Greece. Discovered in the 19th century, it was the first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia.

The most significant remains include a monumental palace decorated with magnificent mosaics and painted stucco. The necropolis contains over three hundred tumuli, royal burials, some dating back to the 11th century BC. It is believed that among the royal tombs in the Great Tumulus is that of King Philip II of Macedonia.

The tumulus-shaped shelter that surrounds all the royal tombs now serves as the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai, providing adequate protection. All the artifacts discovered in these tombs, as well as the architectural structures and wall frescoes, are displayed in a safe, controlled environment. It is a remarkable example of funerary monuments integrated into a modern underground museum.

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Professor Manolis Andronikos, the archaeologist who brought the treasures to light and had the knowledge and insight to identify them as they were.

An exceptional universal value

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The royal dynasty of the Téménides, to which Philip II and Alexander the Great belonged, had its origins in the ancient city of Aigai.

The archaeological site includes an urban center, the oldest and most important in the region, surrounded by several settlements. It is bounded by the Haliakmon River to the west and north, the Askordos River to the east, and the Pierian Mountains to the south.

The Aigai site provides important information about ancient Macedonian culture, history, and society, a Greek people who long preserved ancestral traditions and helped spread Greek culture throughout the ancient Greek world and beyond.

Among the archaeological remains already uncovered is the monumental palace dating from around 340 BC. It is one of the most impressive in classical Greece for its grandeur. The site also includes a theater, the sanctuaries of Eukleia and the Mother of the Gods, part of the city walls, and a royal necropolis with over 500 burial mounds dating from the 11th to 2nd centuries BC.

In all, three groups of royal tombs have been uncovered, among them twelve monumental temple tombs, including the Tomb of Philip II's mother, Eurydice, and those of Philip II and his grandson, Alexander IV, discovered in 1977/1978. These tombs have caused a sensation all over the world thanks to their exceptional preservation from looting and to the quality of the funerary objects associated with them.

Visiting the Aigai Site

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The new polycentric museum is a central reference point, designed as a symbolic gateway to Aigai's archaeological site and history.

It also offers an immersion into the history and culture of the Macedonians and the Hellenistic Oikoumene.

Significantly, the new museum houses the physical headquarters of the digital museum "Alexander the Great, from Aigai to Oikoumeni".

In this way, the new polycentric museum will provide visitors with the opportunity to discover various aspects of the history and culture related to Aigai and the time of Alexander the Great.

The new museum offers a variety of thematic exhibitions, including the introduction to "A Window on the World of Alexander the Great", as well as 5 separate exhibitions:

  • Architectural exhibition with the reconstructed palace part.
  • Exhibition of sculptures
  • Central exhibition "Aigai mémoire".
  • Periodical exhibition "Oikumeni Antidoron".
  • Art exhibition "Memory Material" with works created by Christos Bokoros especially for Aigai Museum.

Exhibition of Royal Tombs

As soon as the royal tombs of Aigai were discovered in 1977, the initiative for the conservation of the famous murals that adorned them was immediately launched.

At the same time, a conservation laboratory was set up on site to rescue and restore the extremely important movable artifacts they contained.

To protect these royal tombs, an underground shelter was built in 1993 to enclose and preserve the ancient monuments while maintaining the constant temperature and humidity needed to preserve the murals.

On the outside, this structure takes the form of a mound of earth, while on the inside, all the treasures from the excavations of the royal tombs have been on display since November 1997.

In the utopian ideal of "eternal" preservation, modern technology is used to stop natural decay.

The ancient objects are cleaned, conserved, "restored", and presented to the public in a way removed from their original function.

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Although what is "dead" and buried may one day return to the light, it will never regain its original form.

Here, visitors have the unique opportunity to admire all late classical Greek art (architecture, painting, metalwork, weapons, jewelry) at its best.

The Royal Tomb of Philip II, the eternal residence of the King, offers a fascinating insight into the lavish funeral of King Philip II in 336 BC.

In keeping with tradition, the ceremony took place in Aigai, marking the most grandiose event in Greek funeral history.

The monumental burial chamber, with its elaborate funerary bed of gold and ivory, holds the king's precious crown of golden oak.

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A hunting scene with portraits of Philip II and his son Alexander on the facade of the tomb.

Also on display is the golden deathbed of King Philip II of Macedonia, which reveals the influence of Platonic thought in the design of the "Macedonian Tomb".

In the antechamber, Philip's wife Meda is buried beside him, while a unique mural depicts the abduction of Persephone by Hades, the god of the underworld.

25 years after Philip's assassination, his grandson Alexander 4, also killed by Cassandra, will join his heroic grandfather in the final residence.

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Evidence of the destruction inflicted on the Aigai necropolis by the Gallic mercenaries of the Epirote Pyrrhus at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. is on display, bearing witness to the memory and cult of the glorious dead.

A one-chambered Macedonian tomb with a free-standing Doric column facade is on display. A number of broken stelae from the tombs of ordinary citizens bear the names of Macedonians from the Classical period.

The burial vault covering the tomb and the precious objects belonging to the notables of the time, left as gifts, accompanied the king on his eternal journey. To protect the objects from the wear and tear of time, the exhibition space is dimly lit. 

The Palace of Alexander

Alexander the Great was proclaimed King of Macedonia in 336 B.C. after the assassination of his father Philip II. This palace was designed to accommodate up to 8,000 people.

He inherited a powerful kingdom after the assassination of his father. He became ruler of the Macedonians immediately after his coronation, and his first task was to unite Macedonia and the Greek cities in order to prepare them for the invasion of the Persian Empire.

The Palace was destroyed by the Romans in 148 B.C. Excavations began in 1865 and continued "sporadically" throughout the 20th century, according to archaeologists.

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The Ancient City of Aigai

The ancient city of Aigai was built at the crossroads of the ancient axis connecting the Macedonian basin with Thessaly, which stretched over 800,000 hectares and crossed the mountains. It was also the route from the western coast of the Thermaic Gulf to the interior of the kingdom.

Situated on the slope between the modern villages of Vergina and Palatitsia, the site housed the fortified acropolis, sanctuary, palaces and tombs of the rulers. The different quarters of the city were called "komes" in Greek. This explains the plural ending of the name "Aigai".

They emanated from the city walls and spread out over large areas, scattered between the low hills and the plain. Their presence marked the course of ancient roads. The districts furthest from the center also had their own small cemeteries.

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The name "Aigai" comes from the same root as the ancient Greek word "aiga" meaning goat, and translates as "land of goats". In keeping with its name, the city's economy was based on animal husbandry. The city's prosperity was further enhanced by the presence of a forest rich in game and timber, which the king used as a key asset in his foreign policy, and the proximity of a river that served as a waterway for transporting timber and provided an abundant source of fish. The uncontrolled expansion of the necropolis towards the plain suggests that agriculture was not the predominant economic activity. However, it did guarantee self-sufficiency, along with viticulture and arboriculture. The hilly area still offers ideal conditions for the last activity.

Although the ancient Macedonian capital never succeeded in transforming itself into a major industrial and export center, due to its centuries-old economic structures based mainly on land ownership, it prospered as a dynamic market for goods and services until the Hellenistic era.

This prosperity stemmed from the general wealth of its inhabitants. Above all, it was due to the presence of a large royal court.

Acropolis and city walls

At the beginning of the reign of Philip II, from 359 B.C. to 336 B.C., the fortifications were reinforced. They surrounded the slope where the city center was located. It was also the enclosure of the two hills to the south of the palace, where the acropolis was built. The wall, reinforced by towers, was up to 3 meters thick. The facades were made of porous, angular stones that came from the Vermian quarries, more than 10 km away, and were raised in rough brick over a significant part of their height. A magnificent gate was located in the eastern part of the wall, and a smaller one in the northwestern corner. Other remains of a wall dating from the 5th century B.C. were found underneath. This tells us that the city of Aigai was probably already fortified at the time of Perdiccas II (454 BC to 413 BC).

The Aigai Theatre

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It was in this theater that Philip II of Macedonia was assassinated. Built in the 4th century B.C., it occupied a central position on the vast terrace where the palace also stood, forming an organic link with it.

These 2 buildings represent the most ancient vestiges of the monarchical system (Vasileia) that characterized the entire ancient world in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The theater has an earthen nave, called the diazoma, while only the first row of seats and the stage, called the skene, were built of stone.

The orchestra, centered around the preserved stone foundation of the thymel, the altar of Dionysus, has a diameter of 28 m 40. This architectural configuration provides valuable evidence of the spatial and structural organization characteristic of theatres of the time.


The discovery of these sanctuaries provides crucial information for understanding religious rituals and family ties within the royal family. This rich collection of objects also reveals valuable insights into the religiosity and cult life of the Macedonian community at the time.

The Sanctuary of Kybele

The Sanctuary of Kybele, also known as the Mother of the Gods, is an invaluable source of information about worship in Aigai. Founded in the heart of the ancient city, this sanctuary has the structure of a large building, reminiscent of an ancient house, with spacious rooms organized around a central courtyard. The most common finds are clay figurines of the Mother of Gods enthroned with the tympanum and lions, mainly from the Hellenistic period, when the sanctuary was most used. These artifacts provide important clues as to how the cult was celebrated. They also reveal the symbols and attributes associated with the goddess.

The Sanctuary of Artemis Eucléia

The Sanctuary of Eucléia, whose name derives from "eu" (good) and "cleos" (fame), was built in the 4th century B.C. and is located directly under the monumental complex of the Palace and Theater of Aigai. The sanctuary complex consists of the foundations of two temples, an altar, a portico (stoa) and a peripheral building. Archaeological excavations have revealed royal dedications to the goddess. The most notable is that of Eurydice, the paternal grandmother of Alexander the Great. It is believed that these offerings were made to commemorate the victory of Philip II at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC. In the area surrounding the sanctuary, 3 graves have been discovered. They were buried with wreaths of golden oak leaves.

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