Archaeological Site of Aigai

Archaeological Site of Aigai
Photo by Argo.

The Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina) holds the remains of Macedonia's first capital, Aegae.

It was the seat of the royal family of Philip II and Alexander the Great. Aegae flourished chiefly in the second half of the 4th century BCE. From this period, the palace, theatre and the necropolis remain. The royal tombs, with burials spanning a longer period, were decorated with wall paintings and held rich grave goods.

Community Perspective: The focus of the site is the great museum that is cut into Philip´s tumulus. The palace area has been closed for restoration for ages and stays unreviewed. Hubert has provided the most up-to-date info (September 2023).

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Austria - 22-Nov-23 -

Archaeological Site of Aigai by Hubert

I wrote this review to provide a brief overview of what visitors can currently expect from Aigai (September 2023). Most importantly, the palace site is still closed for construction works, the re-opening date is not known. The theatre is open to visitors, but there is not much to see (nothing more than on the photo in Solivagant's review). The new museum is open (since December 2022). And as mentioned in the previous review, photography is now allowed (without flash) in the Royal Tombs Museum.
[Edit January 2024: the Palace of Aigai was reopened on January 7, 2024]

Here is my dialogue with the lady at the ticket counter at the Royal Tombs:
Lady: Would you like to take a combined ticket?
Me: What is included?
Lady: The Royal Tombs museum, the new museum outside the town and the archaeological park.
Me: Archaeological park? Is that the site where the palace and the theatre are?
Lady: The palace is closed for construction work.
Me: Do you know when it will reopen?
Lady: They said at the end of the year. So maybe next year. Maybe (accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders).
Me: And what about the other tombs that are even marked on Google Maps? For example, the Queen's tomb?
Lady: Those are not accessible.
Me: So it's just the theatre?
Lady: Yes.
Me: Isn't it a bit exaggerated to call it an "archaeological park" when it's just the ruins of a theatre?
Lady: …. would you like to take the combined ticket?

So not more than the two museums? Basically yes, but both are pretty amazing. The Museum of the Royal Tombs has already been praised by previous reviewers, and I can only agree. The photo shows the golden Gorytos, a case for bow and arrows, one of many spectacular finds from the Royal Tombs. 
The central exhibit in the new Polycentric Museum of Aigai is the restored façade of the palace, or at least a part of it. Apart from a few sculptures, it is mainly jewellery and everyday items that are on display: lamps, arrowheads, small clay jugs. But they are nicely presented, some showcases looks more like an art installation. So even such ordinary objects as iron nails are a real eye-catcher. The DiscoverVeria website shows photos that give an impression of what I mean.
The Polycentric Museum was opened in December 2022, it is located in the buffer zone. But strictly speaking it is the "New Central Building". On the DiscoverVeria website (link above) you can read the following:
"A multifunctional and constantly evolving museum of a 146.000m2 size with various distinct units scattered around the area. It integrates and connects the new central building not only with the whole archaeological site of Aigai, namely the Palace and the tomb cluster of Temenids, but also with the world-famous Museum of the Royal Tombs."
So there is some hope that one day the entire archaeological site will be open to visitors. Certainly a reason to revisit, there is much more to see than what is currently accessible. And who knows what is still hidden beneath the ground.

And finally a recommendation: visit the Church of Saint Demetrios at Palatitsia. It is a little gem with wall paintings from the 16th century. The connection to the archaeological site is that it was built with material from the palace. It is located on the edge of the core zone and can be reached from the Royal Tombs in 30 minutes on foot or 5 minutes by car.


UK - 01-Aug-23 -

Update on the photography policy as at 01 August 2023. Photography is now allowed in the Tomb without flash.  

There is non EU discrimination on entry for kids in that it is free for children from the EU but 1/2 price for kids from elsewhere.   Although the kind ticket lady insisted that our 6 year old daughter was 5 and therefore free (which everyone found amusing except, of course, for the 6 year old)


UK - 09-Jun-18 -

Archaeological Site of Aigai by Solivagant

We visited Aigai in April 2018 and, in common with previous reviewers, concentrated on the “Royal Tombs Museum” in the “Great Tumulus”. It is truly magnificent, both in concept and in contents. A tumulus, which was successively extended by the Macedonians to include 4 different tombs, has been “hollowed out” during and after excavation (which only commenced in 1976), and then roofed over to create a large interior space whilst maintaining its exterior size and covering of grass.

Within this space each tomb is accessible in its original location (though unfortunately not their interiors, for which one has to rely on replicas - though the original exterior paintings are visible). Their vast collections of funerary objects have been laid out in display cases adjacent to each tomb and include many items which are fully “up there” in their artistic and historical value in comparison with other famous “tomb finds” from around the World. One thing which does seem to have changed since the earlier reviews is what appears to be a far more strict enforcement of a “no photos” policy - I was verbally “warned” on entering that photos were not allowed and that there was CCTV “watching us”. There were plenty of notices around but the guards no doubt regard "old codgers" with cameras around their necks as spelling potential trouble! There was also a full complement of guards located around the tomb museum and I saw no-one surreptitiously using their mobile. Hence – no interior photo from me!

But there really should be a lot more to see at Aigai than just this single tumulus of royal tombs. Nan describes below how, in Apr 2017, he ventured up to the “Palace Area” to get a “bit more” out of his visit but found it closed. We did the same with much the same result. I did, however, walk around the fence to make out the remains of the Theatre where, in 336BC, Philip II of Macedonia was assassinated and his 20 year old son “Alexander” was proclaimed “king”. There is little really to see at the theatre (photo 1) but those who adhere to the “Cleopatra’s Nose Theory of History”, might enjoy considering the subsequent historical impact of the “chance” event which took place there! In just 10 further years Alexander conquered the rest of “Greece” and lands from Egypt, through Anatolia to Persia reaching as far as Taxila in “India”, with results which completely altered the trajectory of World history.

The entire Palace area has been closed for restoration for some years and lacks the “bling” and fame of the Royal tombs but shouldn’t be regarded as being of less importance. Wiki comments “The palace is considered to be not only the biggest but, together with the Parthenon, the most significant building of classical Greece” whilst the AB evaluation says “The most important building so far discovered is the monumental palace, located on a plateau directly below the acropolis. This building, which rose to two and perhaps three storeys, is centred on a large open courtyard flanked by stone Doric colonnades. …... On the north side was a large gallery that commanded the stage of the neighbouring theatre and the whole Macedonian plain. lt was sumptuously decorated, with mosaic floors, painted plastered walls, and fine relief tiles.”  We really regret not having been able to visit it!

The owner of our B+B in Aigai had grumbled that the town didn’t attract enough overnight visitors because the main tomb alone could easily be taken in on a return day trip from Thessaloniki. However, she held out great hopes for the re-opening of the Palace area and the construction of a new museum there which would attract people to stay for longer. Yes, Greece apparently has enough money to build yet another museum at Aigai (I suppose that, if you regard “Tourism” as one of Greece’s major “industries” then such investments which, in other countries, might be considered to belong to the “nice to have if you can afford it” category, are fully justified). Now, today 8 June 2018, I have received a “Web feed” telling me that the “Palace Site” was officially (re)opened 1 day ago! This article from Feb, correctly forecasting the opening in May, gives a better impression of what has been done - note the Theatre at bottom left of the site.  Finally this “propaganda” video from the EU and Greek Government shows the size of the project and what a good job they have been doing!

And what of the Museum? The above article refers to it as still being “under construction” and due to open in 2020 (with “completion” of the Palace reconstruction itself a further 2 years away), but the Web in general contains surprisingly little about it (I would have expected at least a “puff” from the architectural practice which had designed it!). It appears that it is to form a part of Aigai’s “Polycentric Museum” (the clue lies in the “Greek”!!!). As far as I can make out, this is to consist of several “museums” covering a number of the different locations at Aigai (including the existing “Royal Burial Cluster” in the Great Tumulus) with its “gateway” building at the Palace itself and indeed incorporating a part of it. This link provides an introduction (with its proposed different elements accessible from the “white box list” on the LHS). There “a new building ….will house a permanent semi-open-air exhibition of the sculptures found in the city sanctuaries and will accommodate the restored upper floor of the Palace’s façade”. It is described here in outline (It now appears to have become a "Multi-focal" museum - I am not quite sure whether this is intended to be "different" from "Poly-centric" - other than in using words with a Latin rather than a Greek root!) Note the previously planned completion date of Jan 2018 and the source of the majority of the funds from the ERDF! Hopefully all this effort/cost will allow the mosaics to be better viewed than when Els found them “under cover” back in Nov 2003.

So, if one can now visit both the Great Tumulus AND the Palace/Theatre area, what about other inscribed areas? On the way up to the Palace you will pass, on the LHS, one which is signposted “Queen’s tombs”. There is a gate and what might be a ticket/guard office, as well as some old information boards which imply that it was once “open” for viewing - but now the site was completely closed/locked up and looked to have been so for some years! However, further up the hill past the strong fence, you can climb up into a field and reach the site from the rear where you will see a series of excavations covered by tin roofing sheets. Under some of these can be made out a portico reminiscent of those of the tombs in the Great Tumulus (photo 2). This is perhaps not really worth going “out of your way” to see, but of interest to show the wider range of tombs etc beyond the Grand Tumulus which are located at Aigai. I am not sure which tomb we were looking at – possibly that of Queen Eurydice, mother of Philip II? If so, a number of carvings from the queen’s throne inside that tomb were broken off and stolen during Aug 2001. An “inside job” and “lack of staff” were blamed. Perhaps this partly explains the “shut down” in the area (I presume that our “excursion” into the rear field was being observed on CCTV somewhere if we had tried to enter the site itself!) – but the rather  “ramshackle” preservation of the archaeological area didn’t seem to bode that well for its future well-being.

From the description of the elements planned for the ultimate vision of the Museum it would appear that there is no intention to include the Queens Tombs within its “polycentricity” but there are other elements which, as yet, no one on this Web site has visited/reviewed - e.g The Ancient City and Walls, “The royal burial cluster of the Temenid dynasty or burial cluster C’ and the Necropolis. Not to mention the Acropolis and the second WHS location at nearby Emathia! I look forward to future reviews which take in these and the renovated Palace/Theatre area together with its new museum!



Germany - 09-Apr-17 -

Archaeological Site of Aigai by nan

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 found 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 the rooms way too 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 theater area.

Getting There

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.

Getting Around

The museum 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 Also, a new museum is being built; EU money needs to be spend.

John booth

New Zealand - 10-Oct-15 -

Archaeological Site of Aigai by John Booth

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.


USA - 13-Aug-15 -

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.

Kathy Kerrick

USA - 05-Jan-09 -

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

USA - 22-Apr-08 -

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.

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 14-Nov-03 -

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 finding the site. It actually is very easy: the tumulus is like a small hill in the center of the town, with lots of souvenir shops 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 museum pieces 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 covered during my visit. However, this area and the theatre below are worth strolling around.

Klaus Freisinger

Austria - 01-May-05 -

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.

Site Info

Full Name
Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)
Unesco ID
1 3
Archaeological site - Ancient Greece

Site History

2007 Name change

From "Archaeological Site of Vergina" to "Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina)"

1996 Inscribed


The site has 2 locations

Archaeological Site of Aigai: Ancient City and Necropolis of Aegae Emathia, Central Macedonia, Greece
Archaeological Site of Aigai: Bronze Age settlement and Cemetery of Tumuli Emathia, Central Macedonia, Greece


The site has

Art and Architecture
Individual People
Science and Technology
WHS Hotspots
World Heritage Process


Community Members have visited.

A. Mehmet Haksever Adrian Turtschi Alessandro Votta Alex Marcean Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Alfons and Riki Verstraeten Allison Vies Allnamesused Angelo7g Argo Assif Astraftis Atila Ege Berteig Bin Can SARICA Christravelblog ClaraHH Cobaltrage Czesioszpachelka Dan Daniel C-Hazard Daniela Hohmann David Berlanda Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dimitrios Polychronopoulos Donald M Parrish Jr Elaine McArdle Els Slots EngelMef Enrico Cerrini Erik Jelinek Ezio1990 FS Fan Yibo Felicité Femke Roos Fotoula Frediehung Geo George Gdanski GeorgeIng61 Giannis75 Gwythyr Hadrianus Harry Mitsidis Hubert Iain Jackson Irena Klementov Ivan Rucek JLuth Jancidobso Jarek Pokrzywnicki Jaysutton79 Jens Jezza Joel on the Road John Smaranda John booth Jonas Kremer Jonas Martinsson Jose Antonio Collar Joshuakirbens Jsalda Judith Tanner Juha Sjoeblom KB1 KarenBMoore Kbecq Kent Klaus Freisinger Knut Krafal_74 Krzysztof B Kurt Lauer La caperucita roja LaVale Lisu Marian Lois Dekker Lorenzo Mejino Lorenzo2022 Lubos Lier Lucio Gorla Ludvan Luisfreire Martijn Martina Rúčková Maryaton Matthewsharris MaxHeAnouBen Mdnichol Michal Marciniak Michiel Dekker Mikko Milan Jirasek Monika and Rini Mysteredgar Nan Nihal Ege Orphanos Pascal Cauliez Patrick Matgen Patrik Paul Schofield Peter Lööv Philipp Leu Philipp Peterer Q Rachel Perkins Randi Thomsen Reza RobbyBob Robin Frank Roger Ourset Roman Bruehwiler Roman Raab Ronald Lange Ronbon Ross Black Sabrina Liebehentschel Shandos Cleaver Simonh Solivagant Stanislaw Warwas Svein Elias Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tarquinio_Superbo Thibault Magnien Thomas Buechler Thomas van der Walt Tikhon Puliaev TimAllen Tony0001 Triath Tsunami Vanessa Buechler Vernon Prieto Viaje al Patrimonio Walter H. Waterfighter8 Westwards Wojciech Fedoruk Yevhen Ivanovych Yuri Samozvanov Zoë Sheng