Archaeological site of Philippi
The Archaeological Site of Philippi comprises the ruins of a Macedon city, that saw its heyday in Roman and Early Christian times. Philippi was founded in 356 BCE by King Phillip II (and named after himself), on a strategic location on the east-west route through his empire which was later reconstructed by the Romans as the Via Egnatia.
The city later became a center of Christian faith and place of pilgrimage, because according to the New Testament it had been visited by the Apostle Paul around 49 or 50 A.D. The first church in Philippi was established in the year 343.
Notable remaining monuments within the walled city include:
- Greek theatre
- Roman Forum
- Octagon Church
- transept Basilica
- domed Basilica
- sections of paving of the Via Egnatia
Stanislaw Warwas - August 2016
Visited August 2016.
It is possible to visit Philippi as a day trip from Thessaloniki, although you should start very early in the morning. Take the first bus to Kavala from KTEL Makedonia bus station at 6 am (around 2h20min) and change there for a local bus going towards Drama, get out in Philippi (20 min, lots of buses), very close to the entrance to the site.
The entry fee to the site and the museum is 6 €. You will get a leaflet with the plan of site and potential paths to follow. No guide or guide books in English available.
The site itself is not very enormous and comprises 3 parts. Acropolis situated above the archaeological remains contains mostly medieval walls and is not very spectacular, but the views from there are really nice: you get the panorama of the Roman and Christian sites and the battlefield from 42 BC. To get there involves a steep 30-minute hiking through the bushes – the path is not easy to find, it stars just behind the fence very close to the museum.
The other parts of the property are divided by a road that used to be part of Roman Via Egnatia. The upper part of the old walled city comprises Greek/Roman theatre, remains of some temple and footings of an old basilica, called Basilica A. Every year in August there is a Theatre Festival held at the site. Although the city was founded by Philip II of Macedonia, because of the silver mines in this area, it reached its peak during Roman times. And the visit of the apostle Paul in the ’40 of the first century made it a very important pilgrimage site too, but only for a short period. The hole in which St. Paul was imprisoned is located in the SW side of the basilica. (I was told that there were some painting on the wall of the hole but I have not seen them.) Then you can go to the small but interesting museum, passing by Basilica C, not accessible for tourists.
The museum has 4 galleries: Prehistoric period, Hellenistic city, Roman colony, Early Christian and Byzantine. All artefacts were found in Philippi, the most interesting are stone and marble stelae and glass products.
In the lower city there are remains of agora, octagonal building with some mosaics in situ and the biggest basilica (called B or Direkler). Behind the basilica there are 50 public toilets which seem to be one of the most interesting part of the site.
I spent around 4 hours at this WHS, including climbing the acropolis, but I am sure that everything can be “done” in just one hour and a half.
You return to Thessaloniki the same way by bus, but if you still have time, spend some time in Kavala, in its old ottoman upper city, walk along the shore or the aqueduct and have a lunch in one of the restaurant serving wonderful sea food.
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Full name: Archaeological site of Philippi
2016 - InscribedReasons for inscription
2016 - Revision2 locations concerning the Battlefield of Philippi withdrawn on advice of ICOMOS (by letter of 27 February 2016)
2014 - RevisionRenomination under the same name at the new tentative list of Greece
The site has 6 connections.
Religion and Belief
- Christian Pilgrimage Sites Centre of Christian pilgrimage deriving from the visit and mission of the Apostle Paul in 49/50 CE. (AB ev)
- Mentioned in the Bible According to the New Testament, in AD 49 or 50, the city was visited by the apostle Paul (Acts 16:9-10). From the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 16:12) and the letter to the Philippians (Philippians 1:1), early Christians concluded that Paul had founded their community. Accompanied by Silas, Timothy and possibly Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul is believed to have preached for the first time on European soil in Philippi (Acts 16:12-40). According to the New Testament, Paul visited the city on two other occasions, in 56 and 57. (wiki)
- Built in the 4th century BC founded in 356 BCE