The Must-See Ancient Greek Site of Amphipolis

Ancient Gymnasium of Amphipolis
The Gymnasium at the ancient Greek city of Amphipolis. Credit: Greek Reporter

The ancient Greek city of Amphipolis, one of Greece’s many exceptional archaeological sites, was an Athenian colony founded in 437 BCE on the older Thracian site of Ennea Hodoi (Nine Roads). Situated between the navigable Strymon River and Mount Paggaion, it became rich in the production of shipbuilding timber and precious metals. Not far from the sea and at a crossroads of main land routes, it had many natural advantages.

After its capture by Philip II in 357 BC, it became a Macedonian stronghold, and as the site of a royal mint, it evolved into a powerful military and financial center as well. It was here that Alexander the Great and his army gathered to prepare before they conquered the known world of that time.

The Acropolis of Amphipolis is a site full of history since excavations so far have revealed findings from three major eras of Greek history—the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine.

It is natural, then, that the excavations and analysis of discoveries made will take a long time, and it is difficult to draw any major conclusions now.

The excavation in ancient Amphipolis is a five-year program, beginning in 2019 and ending in 2023; the digs take place in summers only.

The excavations are headed by the director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Serres, Dr. Dimitria Malamidou, in collaboration with the University of Patras, represented by Archaeology Professor Dr. Dimitrios Damaskos.

The excavation site is located in the center of the ancient city in a large Hellenistic building found under the early Byzantine basilica. Next to it, researchers discovered parts of a Roman-period building.

Amphipolis, because of the large area it covers, is not only suitable for excavations and research for more research teams but also research that often exceeds the age expectation of all of us,” Dr. Damaskos said in speaking to the newspaper Macedonia.

“Obviously, one lifetime is not enough to dig in Amphipolis, so I do not think that we have results that drastically change our picture of the place these years,” he said.

“Before the start of the excavations in 2019, we did not have a picture of the classical, Hellenistic and Roman Acropolis, which is also the center of the city over time,” Dr. Damaskos said, adding that “we know very little about these times and the three months we have been digging now are not enough to reach safe conclusions.”

The Amphipolis Tomb at Kasta Hill

Kasta Hill at Amphipolis. Credit: Greek Reporter

This enormous funerary complex is the latest finding of the area and the most popular one. As the tomb’s archaeological excavation is still in progress, there is limited access to the area, but it still gives you an idea of the scale of this unique monument. You can drive to the site, passing through the village of Mesolakia and then following the road to the hill.

The Ancient Walls of Amphipolis

Walls of Amphipolis
Walls of Amphipolis. Credit: Greek Reporter

The ancient City of Amphipolis was enclosed within large walls to protect its residents. The walls were discovered in the 1970’s by Greek archaeologist Dimitris Lazarides. Many parts of the wall can be seen today, and they are definitely worth a visit.

The Ancient Bridge

The Ancient Bridge of Amphipolis
The ancient bridge of Amphipolis. Credit: Greek Reporter

This ancient bridge, which the ancient Greek historian Thucydides also refers to in his works, was also discovered by Lazarides. Its dimensions are 13.40 x 9 meters (113 by 29 feet). Thucydides, in his relation of the events of the Battle between Kleon and Vrasidas in 422 BC, included a reference to this very bridge.

The Ancient Greek Tomb of the Fox in Amphipolis

The Ancient Macedonian Tomb of 'the fox'
Tomb of the Fox. Credit: Greek Reporter

You could call this burial the little sister of the tomb at Kasta Hill. It is located quite close to the recently discovered monument, and, when you visit it, you will get an idea of typical Macedonian tomb architecture.

Legend has it that it was discovered because a fox used to hide inside, and, when the locals decided to find the animal that was threatening their chicken farms, they stumbled upon the tomb.

The Lion of Amphipolis

Leon of Amphipolis
The Lion of Amphipolis. Credit: Greek Reporter

The famous Lion of Amphipolis, which sits on top of Kasta Hill is located five kilometers outside of modern-day Amphipolis. Its size and attention to detail is impeccable and a sign of the greatly advanced civilization of that era.

It is said that this statue is one of the three lions Alexander the Great himself had commissioned to be made.

Mount Paggaio and its Famous Waterfall

Paggaio Waterfall. Credit: Greek Reporter

Mount Paggaio, which is known for its great natural beauty, is only thirty minutes away from Amphipolis and ten minutes away from Mesoropi.

It offers many hiking trails to discover and opportunities to observe wild life. To reach its famous waterfall from Amphipolis, enter the Egnatia highway and take the exit for Moustheni. You will pass through Moustheni and follow the road to the mountain.

At the end, you will see the path entrance; after an hour’s walk along the slopes of Mount Paggaio, you will reach the waterfall.

Visit the village of Moustheni and eat at Bostani

Moustheni Village at mount Paggaio
Moustheni village. Credit: Greek Reporter

Moustheni is a beautiful village with stone houses and narrow streets that is definitely worth a visit after all of your rambles around the countryside near Amphipolis. In Moustheni, you will also find Bostani, one of the best traditional Greek tavernas in the entire area. After a hike to the Paggaio Waterfall, a visit at Bostani to try some of the best local dishes is a must. If you like meat, ask for their special pork steak, but be prepared to eat a lot because it’s huge!

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