Ancient Pella and Vergina
Duration: 8 hours
Tour Code: THE-004
Marvel at some of the greatest treasures of antiquity, including the excavated city of Pella and the royal tombs that were discovered undisturbed at Vergina.
After departing from the pier, you will enjoy a scenic 1-hour drive through the rolling countryside to Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Although the site had long been known, it wasn’t until 1957 that excavations began and the importance of Pella came to light once again.
As you walk about, you will notice that Pella was laid out on a rectangular grid with well-defined city blocks and paved streets with sidewalks. Terra cotta pipes were installed underground to deliver fresh water while others disposed of sewage. The private homes of the aristocrats were just as advanced, and many of them featured colonnaded courts and intricate floor mosaics made with colored pebbles. The museum here is filled with treasures that were unearthed during the excavations.
Next, it’s on to nearby Vergia where you will stop for photos at a monument to St. Paul, who preached there. More treasures of the ancient world await you at Vergina, an archaeological site so important that it has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vergina is the modern name for the ancient city of Aigai, which was the first capital of Macedonia. Vergina earned its status as one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece when a series of intact tombs of the Macedonian Royal Family was unearthed in the late 1970s. Vergina was the burial site for all Macedonian royalty and tradition held that the Macedonian Dynasty would collapse if one of the kings was ever buried elsewhere. This superstition became fact when, after his death in Babylon, Alexander was interred somewhere in Asia and the Dynasty fell.
The most significant tomb is that of Philip II, who was assassinated in the theater in 336 B.C., leaving his son Alexander the Great as king. The facade has the form of a Doric temple with a marble door. Philip’s solid-gold larnax or ash chest, a massive frieze of a hunting scene, and numerous grave artifacts were found inside undisturbed.
As you walk among the various tombs and monumental buildings, you will see mosaic flooring, colonnades and fine relief tiles in excellent condition. You might also visit a tomb believed to be that of Alexander the Great’s son. It closely resembles Philip’s tomb, although it is smaller. Its original contents are displayed in front of the tomb.
Other invaluable artifacts are housed in the Archaeological Museum atop the tombs. The items include elaborate jewelry, a golden wreath of hundreds of oak leaves and acorns, the king’s armor, a great gold-and-ivory ceremonial shield and a carved burial bed. Also on display are miniature ivory statues of the royal family, including a rare portrait of Alexander.
Following your visit, you will travel to a local restaurant where you will stop for a traditional Greek lunch and then return to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 3-hours of easy to moderate walking with some steps and thresholds to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and may not be suitable for those with walking difficulties who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; a bottle of water from the ship; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The tour sequence may vary.