Vergina Travel Guide

Vergina

The modern city of Vergina wasn't established in its present form until 1922, but the ancient city of Aigai, the original capital of Macedonia, was founded in the 8th century BC and was at its height in the 4th century BC. It's here that Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, was assassinated in 336 BC and where he was buried among the Royal Tombs, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site. For years, both archaeologists and grave robbers had suspected that the large mound that stood on this site might contain something of value but, try as they might, neither of these groups was successful in penetrating its secret. Serious excavations begin in the mid-19th century, and although discoveries were made, the most importantones didn't happen for almost 100 years. Many locals still remember playing ball on the mound as children. Professor Manolis Andronikos, who discovered the tombs, theorized in his book The Royal Tombs of Vergina that one of Alexander's successors, wanting to protect Philip's tomb from robbers, had it covered with broken debris and tombstones to make it appear that the grave had already been plundered, and then built the tumulus so that Philip's tomb would be near the edge rather than the center. When Andronikos discovered it, on the final day of excavation, in 1977, he had been trying one of the last approaches, with little hope of finding anything—certainly not the tomb of Philip II, in as pristine condition as the day it was closed. It was the first intact Macedonian tomb ever discovered.

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