For the next three days we tour the land in which Alexander was born, raised and conquered the world (as they knew it then) and was finally buried alongside his father King Phillip ll.
The first two day’s we base ourselves in Vergina. Known as Aigai in ancient times it is the recently discovered (1977) site of the magnificent tombs of the Macedonian royal family, King Philip ll, father of Alexander the Great.
The museum built inside the burial chamber known as the Great tumulus contains some of the most spectacular gold objects found in ancient Greece, including gold caskets in which the bones of Philip ll and Alexander were buried.
Inside the domed roof of the museum you get a real sense of the scale and feel of the tumulus with passageway’s leading to the tombs. The marbled door temples are closed but you can walk down a passageway to the entrance. Outside is a model of the chamber with descriptions of what was found inside, items such as paintings, tools, weapons, a full set of armour, jewellery, eating utensils, dishes, wine jugs etc., all the things that would be needed in their next life. The youngest wife or concubine also willingly went to their death and was buried with him so as to join the King in his next life.
Alexander was the son of King Phillip ll, and both were born and raised in the village of Pella and it was from the royal palace there that in 338 BC Phillip ll left to conquer Greece.
After King Philip died from battle injuries some years later, Alexander at the age of 20 years became king, and marched all the way to India, conquering everything in his path, fulfilling his father Philip’s plans to defeat the Persians in Asia, and creating the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen. An empire that extended to India in the east and Egypt in the south.
He died in Babylon under mysterious circumstances at the young age of 33 years, and his body returned to the royal tombs Vergina to be buried next to his father.
Alexander was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history’s most successful military leaders.
This is honestly one of the best museums we have seen in a long time.
Our next stop is Pella, where from my bedroom window I look at the ruins of what was the largest agora in the ancient world, where Alexander lived, and was tutored by the great philosopher, Aristotle.
In Alexanders days the landscape was very different from now. Then the palace overlooked both the plain and the channel which bought supplies from around Europe into it’s bustling harbour, and from where their ships sailed off to conquer new lands. Now the waters have sadly dried up, and the hill overlooks the peaceful and still fertile fields growing canola, wheat and other crops.
Vergina and Pella will outlive us all. Over two and half thousand years of war, invasion and savage attacks are etched into the ruins, burial mounds and tombs here. And still they remain, partly due to the fantastic excavation works and archaeological digs of the passionate people that thankfully come to work here.