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Restored Ancient Greek Palace Gets Ready for Visitors

Work is proceeding at a rapid rate to prepare the ancient Greek palace of Philip II at Aigai, in the Pella region, for public access in May, according to the Athens Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).
With its walls restored to a height of 1.6 meters and impressive mosaics on the hall floors uncovered, the archaeological site will be ready to receive visitors.
The palace, constructed during the reign of King of Macedonia Philip II (359-336 BC), father of Alexander the Great, is three times the size of the Parthenon and belongs to a complex that includes royal burial clusters and a fortified town.
The royal complex is at a strategic location enclosed by two rivers and the Pieria mountains. Stonemasons have been working on the palace reconstruction, reassembling the 30 columns in the palace’s peristyle on the facade.
Sixteen columns of the peristyle’s southern section and the frieze will be reconstructed to a height of eight meters. “This will allow us to get a comprehensive view of the building,” archaeologist Angeliki Kottaridi told AMNA.
A total of 7,000 stone-cut blocks — measuring 1m long by a maximum 0.70m wide and  0.50m in height — have been made to augment the original stone blocks to shore up the massive buttress on which the palace foundation rests. The surfaces of these stones are hand-carved, using tools like those employed by ancient stonemasons.
The floor mosaics, which will be visible in May, include the mythological theme of the rape of Europa and nature scenes.
“The palace of Philip II was destroyed in the middle of the 2nd century BC, following the conquering of Macedonia by the Romans. Many of its architectural stone parts were used in constructing other buildings,” Kottaridi told AMNA.
“It’s characteristic that many of the stones from the building uncovered by French excavators in the 19th century were used to build homes housing refugees in the nearby village of Vergina,” she added.
“The reconstruction of the Aigai palace complex is particularly significant, as it will provide Macedonia with the most important example of classical-era architecture in the whole of northern Greece,” Kottaridi said.
Part of the upper floor at the palace’s entrance way and a 30m part of a colonnade have been set up inside the new museum at Aigai, because they could not be reconstructed in situ. According to the archaeologist, the museum will be ready by the Spring of 2020.

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