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Greece Reopens Palace Where Alexander the Great Became King

Greece opened the restored palace of Philip II at Aigai, Macedonia, where Alexander the Great became king 2,300 years ago. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis opened the restored palace of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, at Aigai, Macedonia on Friday. This is the same palace that 2,300 years ago Alexander the Great became king.

“The palace has a cultural and national character because it confirms the Greek timelessness of Macedonia throughout the centuries,” Mitsotakis said.

“Our bet is to be able to make Aigai a point of reference, a landmark of our ancestors’ greatness, but also a part of our modern life. This wonderful archaeological park can and should become a catalyst of economic development for Vergina, Imathia, and all the region of Macedonia,” he added.

Palace of Philip II Aigai
PM Mitsotakis opens the ancient palace. Credit: AMNA

The palace of Philip II (359-336 BC), father of Alexander the Great, is the central feature of the Macedonian king’s great building program for his capital city of Aigai.

It is considered the largest building of classical Greece, while the palace complex occupies nearly 15,000 square meters. The building, is simple in design yet highly functional, it is characterized by the luxury of materials, ingenuity in construction, and elegance.

Its features include a monumental entranceway (propylon) that recalls a sanctuary, impressive two-story stoas on the facade that provided a view of the city and could be used by the public, the great colonnade (peristyle) that was used for symposia, the tholos dedicated to Hercules, and a library/archive, among others.

The palace building housed all functions necessary for the exercise of public power. It is surrounded by 16 Doric columns on each side known as the grand peristyle of Aigai, and forms a square, a unique construction. Its specific surface area is 4,000 square meters, and it could hold at least 8,000 people.

Restoration of the Palace of Philip II at Aigai

Construction began in the middle of the 4th century BC and was completed by 336 BC, when Philip II was assassinated as he entered the nearby theater. In the great peristylion, his son Alexander III was declared king of Macedonians, setting in motion a trajectory that would change the world.

The palace was destroyed in the middle of the 2nd century BC, following the dissolution of the kingdom by Romans in 148 BC. Over the centuries, its building materials were looted until it was rediscovered through excavations begun in 1865 and continuing intermittently through the 1950s.

Reconstruction began by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Imathia in 2007, and lasted to 2023. It was funded by several European Union funding programs at a total cost of 20.3 million euros. Works included maintenance, structural support, restoration, and reconstruction of the monument.

The restoration project was expanded into the surrounding complex (the 15,000 sq.m.) and the area beyond (nearly 25,000 sq.m.). Excavations and registration of thousands of portable findings and architectural components of stone (tens of thousands) were carried out on the entire site, as well as the restoration of a section of the roof of the museum’s atrium. Earth support works were also included.

Dr Angeliki Kottaridi was the scientific and administrative supervisor of the entire project at all stages, with the help of a team that included a civil engineer, an architect, archaeologists, conservators, and craftsmen. Some 70-160 people worked on the site at various times.

Related: Palace of Aigai: The Biggest Building of Ancient Greece

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