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The ancient city of Philippi


The ancient city of Philippi, now the most important archaeological site in Eastern Macedonia, lies at the boundary of the marshes that cover the southeast part of the plain of Drama. The site was originally colonized by the people of Thasos, who, aware of the area's plentiful supplies of precious metals, timber, and agricultural products, established the city of Krinides in 360 BC. Soon after its establishment, however, Krinides was threatened by the Thracians (365 BC) and turned to King Philip II of Macedon for help. Realizing its economic and strategic potential, Philip conquered, fortified, and renamed the city after himself.

Hellenistic Philippi had a fortification wall, a theatre, several public buildings, and private houses. The construction of the Via Egnatia through the city in the second century BC made Philippi an important regional centre. The dramatic battle of Philippi, which took place outside the west city walls in 42 BC, was a turning point in the city's history. The city was conquered by Octavian and renamed Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis. The new Roman colony developed into a financial, administrative, and artistic centre.

Another important event marked the city's history a century later. Saint Paul founded the first Christian Church on European soil at Philippi in 49/50 AD. The establishment of the new religion and the city's proximity to Constantinople, the Roman Empire's new capital, brought new splendour. Three magnificent basilicas and the Octagon complex, the cathedral dedicated to Saint Paul, were erected in the city centre in the fourth-sixth centuries AD. After a series of earthquakes and Slavic raids, the lower city was gradually abandoned early in the seventh century. Philippi survived into the Byzantine period as a fortress, until its final demise in the late fourteenth century, after the Turkish conquest.

Excavations at Philippi began in 1914 under the French School at Athens and were resumed by the Greek Archaeological Service and the Archaeological Society at Athens after the Second World. The site is currently excavated by the Greek Archaeological Service, the Aristoteleian University of Thessaloniki, and the French School at Athens. The finds are stored at the Philippi Archaeological Museum. Every summer (May-September) the site is cleared of undergrowth.

The archaeological site of Philippi is located west of the modern town of Krinides, on the provincial road connecting Kavala with Drama. The most important monuments in the area are the city walls, the acropolis, the theatre, the forum, Basilica A, Basilica B, and the Octagon.

The 3.5-kilometre-long walls begin at the fortified acropolis on the hilltop and surround the foot of the hill and part of the plain (first building phase: Philip II, mid-fourth century BC; second building phase: Justinian I, 527 - 565 AD). Inside the acropolis is a Late Byzantine tower.

The theatre, which was probably built by King Philip II in the mid-fourth century BC, was thoroughly remodelled in the second and third centuries AD in order to accommodate Roman spectacles.

The Roman forum, the city's administrative centre in the Roman period, was a unified complex of public buildings positioned around a central square, with two monumental temples at the northeast and northwest. The large paved road that runs north of the forum has been identified as the ancient Via Egnatia.

Basilica A (end of fifth century AD) is a large three-aisled basilica, 130 metres long and 50 metres wide, with a transept, a square atrium, a gallery over the aisles and narthex, and an unusual phiale. Fragments of the luxurious pavement and part of the ambo are preserved in the central aisle. The impressive wall paintings in the chapel's anteroom imitate opus sectile decoration.

Basilica B (ca. 550 AD) is a three aisled basilica with a narthex and annexes to the north and south (phiale and vestry). The almost square central aisle was covered by a dome supported on large pillars, and the sanctuary was vaulted. The sculptural decoration is clearly influenced by Constantinopolitan art.

The so-called Octagon was the episcopal church of Philippi. The church proper presents three building phases (late fourth/early fifth century - mid-sixth century AD). It replaced an earlier smaller church dedicated to Saint Paul (early fourth century), built on the site of a Late Hellenistic tomb-her?on. The complex also comprises a phiale, a baptistery, a bathhouse, a two-storied Episcopal residence, and a monumental gateway towards the Via Egnatia.

Maria Nikolaidou-Patera, archaeologist

See :

Nestos River


Nestos river is in southwestern Bulgaria and western Thrace, Greece. The Néstos rises on Kolarov peak of the Rila Mountains of the northwestern Rhodope (Rodopi) Mountains. The river’s upper confluents separate the Rila and Pirin ranges from the main Rhodope massif. Crossing the Bulgarian frontier into Greece, the Néstos divides the Greek providences of Macedonia from Thrace. From just west of Stavroúpolis to its mouth on the Aegean Sea, 150 miles (240 km) from its source, it forms the boundary between Kaválla and Xánthi (departments).

The Narrows of Nestos river, a water way of rare beauty, offers you unique experiences. Going down the river Nestos takes at least 5 hours but that mostly depends on the amount of water which is deferent from season to season. Crystal waters from natural springs in deferent spots, formed in an artistic way by the Forest Inspection, quench the travelers thirst. Places of recreation and relaxation with seats, tables and shelters, made with ecological sensitivity, are offered for food and rest.

The marble rocks of the area, eroded by the continuous flow of the river waters, create steep hill-sides and a lot of caves. These caves some of which are visible from the passage, have marvelous decorations of stalagmites and stalactites. It is a scenery of special aesthetic and natural beauty, which constantly changes as time passes by.

In autumn, when the area is full of the rich colors of the trees and bushes, you can walk safely on the old stone-paved footpath, which leads you either high to the eroded marble rocks or low to the sandy side of the river, near the rails.

Rich Variety of Flora and Fauna. There are trees and bushes like planes, slivers, willows, wild arbutus, cedars, oaks, wild lilacs, wild olives and rare wild flowers, such as violets, irises, orchids, blossomed depending on the season. There are also rare birds like herons, eagles, vultures, even rare mammals like otters. A place which is offered for photographs in all seasons.

A branch of the International mountain path (E6), parallel to the Nestos river, begins from the community of Galani and leads to the vilages Livera and Kromniko. Following the path E6 and reaching Livera, travelers can visit and have a rest in the cave of Livera.

Livera (abandoned village) is in the heart of the Nestos Narrows and is the only place which reveals the human activity. The natural peacefulness of this place is disrupted only by the lonely jingle of small flocks of sheep and the roar of the train, which passes through the 28 tunnels with a total length of 18km, from the village of Toxotes to Stavroupoli. The same tunnels and the supporting structures on left and on right of the railway line, challenge the interest of travelers. All made by hand and with local natural materials, have been covered by mosses and plants as time passed by. The perfectly rounded holes of the iron bars, used for breaking the rocks, and the barely seen sculptured names of the workers over the grey marbles, are the only proof of human efford.

Also, in a few hours of climbing up the KARPUZ TEPE area, visitors have the chance to admire the wonderful view of Xanthi's and Hrisoupoli's flat country and as well as the Islands of Thassos and Limnos.

At the community of Toxotes there is the lock of Nestos, where wetland has been created with several kinds of interesting birds, like herons.





2009 TEI Kavalas

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