Archaeological Site of Aigai
The Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina) became famous in 1977, when the tomb of Alexander the Great's father, King Philip of Macedon, was discovered there. This proved undoubtedly that Vergina was ancient Macedonia's first capital, Aegae.
Aegae was inhabited from the early Iron Age (1000-700 BC) onwards. It was the capital of the Macedonian state until King Archelaus transferred his seat to Pella. However, also then it remained customary for Macedonia's kings to be buried in the original capital.
Aegae flourished chiefly in the second half of the 4th century B.C. To this period belong the Palace, Theatre and the Tombs. In 168 B.C. the city was seized by the Romans and burnt down.
Visit November 2003
Vergina is situated near Veroia, some 75 kilometers east of Thessaloniki. The easiest way to get there is by car. Not for the first time in my world heritage hunting-life, I had some trouble to find the site. It actually is very easy: the tumulus is like a small hill in the center of the town, with lots of souvenirshops nearby. The palace and the theatre are about 2 kilometers uphill.
The burial mound doesn't look inspiring from the outside, but when you go down inside you enter a magic scene. The place has a diameter of 110 meters, and is 12 meters high. Currently there is a fascinating combination to be seen of on site remains (tombs, columns) and museumpieces taken from the site. A lot of sublime silverware was found (enough to equip a huge kitchen), but the golden crowns made of leaves are my favourite items.
The palace is just outside town, and more like a classic Greek sight. Unfortunately the supposedly great mosaics were under cover during my visit. However, this area and the theatre below are worth strolling around.
nan - April 2017
At the time of my visit (April 2017) only the royal tombs museum is open and can be visited. As previous reviewers have pointed out the combination of excavation site with actual graves plus the artifacts founds on site and all of that hosted within the original hill is unique. Still, it’s a fairly quick visit. And personally, having a bit more lightening would have helped; I found them way to dark without a reason.
The palace area is currently under renovation. I climbed nonetheless to get a bit more out of my visit. From the little
I could see from the outskirts heavy construction works are taking place. Don’t expect this to be open for the foreseeable future. A pity, if you ask me, as I am hard-pressed to see why you would have to lock up the whole area and could’t keep parts of the site open for viewing. The only part you can view is the theatre area.
The official website refers to frequent busses between Vergina and Veria. When I arrived in Veria around 2 p.m. the next bus was to run at 8 p.m. I ended up taking a cab back and forth (17€ and 15€). Taxis are frequent in Veria. In Vergina I had the gas station call a cab.
Vergina is well connected by frequent busses (1h express, 1.5h normal) and far less frequent trains (1h) to Thessaloniki. The train station is outside town with cabs and a bus to the town centre waiting on arrival. The bus station is in the middle of town.
If it fits your schedule, I would still counsel to take the train as the bus station in Thessaloniki is really far out and it will take you another 30min to get back into town. And the train is faster, even taking the average delays into account, and certainly cheaper.
Finally, if you can go by car, the clear recommendation is to do that.
The musuem itself is rather small and covered in an hour. From there to Philip’s palace it’s a 20min walk uphill, the parking lot being in the middle.
Not sure if Els updated the official website, but it is www.aigai.gr. Also, a new museum is being built; EU money needs to be spend.
John Booth - October 2015
I travelled from Thessaloniki by bus to Veria, and changed there to a bus going to Vergina.
Having just read Scott Oden's book 'Memnon', I was most interested to see the reconstructed tomb of Macedonian King Philip II within the museum.
Olivia - August 2015
The museum in Vergina is by far my favorite. The set up is unlike anything I have ever seen before since the museum is literally underground. The dark atmosphere with spotlights of each exhibit gives the whole place an eerie, mystical feel, as if you were actually there in the time of Phillip II. I visited a lot of museums at different sites on that trip, and they are all relatively similar except for this one. I would highly recommend it to all, history aficionado or not, it is a great experience and you will learn a lot.
chris - July 2013
An amazing world heritage site and highly recommended for those wanting to see the wealth of the Ancient Macedonians and how different their burials and artefacts are compared to Ancient Greeks to the south!!
Kathy Kerrick - January 2009
We visited this site in 2007. It was the most memorable museum I have ever enjoyed. The fact that it was built on the site and in the same design of the original discovery is amazing. The quality of the restoration of the artifacts was incredible. I especially remember the crown made of delicate gold foil and decorated with what looked like 3D acorns, flowers and leaves. I also appreciated the two burial temples inside the tumulus. If you are anywhere near, be sure to visit.
Cheri Brooks - April 2008
I was a tour leader to Greece a couple of years ago. Visiting this museum in Vergina was absolutely one of the highlights of the trip for all of us. All artifacts were beautifully displayed, labeled in English, with explanations given to verify their authenticity. I was totally amazed at the craftsmanship and condition of the various items! I believe it is one of those places that most people have never heard of and I'm sure a huge percentage of the visitors to Greece miss it.
There are few accessible sites associated with Alexander the Great, his father Philip II, and ancient Macedonia in general, but Vergina is one of them and a very interesting one to boot. The focus of the site is the great museum that is cut into Philip´s tumulus. It´s one of the most interesting museums I´ve ever been to, and I wish I had had more time in Vergina to explore the area in closer detail. The roads in the vicinity of Vergina are scattered with tumuli, and there are probably lots of undiscovered treasures there. I also visited nearby Pella, which has some interesting mosaics and a nice museum, but doesn´t have anything like Vergina.
firstly,the first capital of macedonia was not vergina but was actually vydessa (originally phrygian). The burial mound tomb architecture exhibits a perculiar style with one or two chambers having double marble doors & vaulted semi barrel light stone roof that isnt found in other parts of greece.All the big tombs are covered by huge protective soil mounds,a practice similar of neo-phrygian tombs in turkey as the king midas tomb in gordian.go to (www.geocities.com/stojangr/macedonian_orphrygian.htm) & see for yourself
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Full name: Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)
2007 - Name changeFrom "Archaeological Site of Vergina" to "Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)"
1996 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 2 locations.
The site has 11 connections. Show all
- Buried treasures Marcedonian royal treasures, 1977-1978 (museum in situ)
- Alexander the Great Tomb of his Father
- Built in the 4th century BC Temple and palace, there are earlier tombs
- Thessaloniki hotspot Thessaloniki hotspot
World Heritage Process
- Name changes From "Archaeological Site of Vergina" to "Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)" (2007)