⇠ Thessaloniki 61km
The capital city of Halkidiki is located in the center of the region. Polygyros was built on the southern slopes of Mt. Holomontas at an altitude of 550 meters. Its name is thought to have been inspired by the many twists and turns in the endless surrounding hills. Another explanation stems from “Poly-geros” or “very-strong”, a reference to the good climate but also possibly “Poly-ieros” or “very-holy”, because of a temple that used to exist in the area. There have been references to Polygyros since Byzantine times, and it is where the Halkidiki uprising started on May 17, 1821. Today, small hotels and guesthouses are available for an overnight stay while tavernas and quaint ouzo bars provide traditional local delicacies. Throughout the year Polygyros organizes various cultural events.
• The traditional web of narrow streets with their old houses. The scenic location of Exi Vrises is well-known, named after its six water taps. A restaurant and a coffee shop located here, are the ideal places to relax and grab a bite.
• The Archaeological Museum with findings from the entire Halkidiki (Olynthos, Potidea e.t.c.).
• The Folk life Museum at Karaganis Mansion.
• The Church of Metamorfosi (Transfiguration): Byzantine church with murals, built in an old prison property.
• Country church of Prophitis Elias (Prophet Elijah).
• The Church of St. Demetrios, built in 1871 at the site Bares.
• Church of Saint (Agios) Modestos with the icon of the saint that was painted in the 15th to 16th century by Monks from Mount Athos.
• Just 6km down the road that leads to Taxiarchis -situated above the general hospital- is the location known as Tsoukalas, which offers a panoramic view of the township.
• A short distance from Polygyros, in the area called Paleporta, was the ancient town Apollonia, southwest from where the city lies today. Here, the visitor can still see part of the castle walls foundations.
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The Carnival feast: 10 days of events that culminate with the parade of carvival floats on the last Sunday of the carnival period.
Taxiarchis is home to a branch of the Forestry Department of the University of Thessaloniki, due to its forest of Christmas trees.
More about Archaeological Museum (Polygyros)
The Museum has a fascinating collection of archaeological finds from all over Halkidiki. Exhibits include clay figurines and coins from Olynthos, vases from Toroni, parts of the roof of the temple of Zeus Ammon from Kallithea, reliquary chests, fisherman’s equipment, lamps, jewels and amphorae from Akanthos, now the town of Ierissos, and funerary steles and the statue of a woman from the 1st century BC, from the sanctuary of a deified hero, from Stratoni.
(More Info: T +30 23710 22148).
The theatre was accidentally discovered in 1992, on a natural slope and it probably belonged to the ancient Macedonian city of Mieza. The cavea has fifteen rows of seats carved in the rock. The scene complex comprises the built proskenion which has a facade with doric semi-columns and the skene which is unfortunately preserved in a poor conndition. Its capacity is estimated at 1,500 people. The theatre was constructed in the late Hellenistic period.
After its accidental discovery, in 1992, the excavation of the monument began and is still conducted by the archaeologists V. Michailidou and V. Allamani.
On the discovery of the Royal Tombs of Vergina (Aigai) in 1977, an immediate programme was launched to preserve the magnificent murals which adorned them. At the same time a conservation laboratory was set up on the spot to save and restore the extremely important portable objects they contained. For the preservation of the Royal Tombs themselves a subterranean structure was built in 1993 to encase and protect the ancient monuments by maintaining a constant temperature and humidity, both indispensable for the preservation of the wall paintings.
Externally the structure has the appearance of an earth mound; inside it are the treasures found in the Royal Tombs, which have been on exhibition since November 1997.
Τ: +30 23310 92347
Special ticket package: Full: €8, Reduced: €4
Valid for: Aigai, Building for the protection of the royal tombs of Vergina
The Museum is largely the result of forty years of untiring efforts by Stavros Kovrakis, a passionate collector of the treasures hidden in the seas of Greece. It also enjoys the support of the Moudania Yacht Club. The Museum has an educational and research role, also doing much to promote the local identity and keep alive its links with its history. The items on display include ancient anchors, fishing nets, fishing rods and hooks, compasses, beacons and lamps and many other intriguing exhibits. There are 3D recreations of a variety of fishing techniques, demonstrating how the different kinds of vessel and net are used, with replicas of fishing boats and a rich archive of documents and illustrations. One of the most fascinating items is the bouyiandes, a traditional fishing vessel formerly seen in the Sea of Marmara, introduced to Greece by the refugees from Asia Minor. The Museum also offers a thrilling insight into the strange and magical world beneath the sea, with its vast range of plant and animal life.
(More Info: H +30 23730 26166)
On the ground floor of the Aretra building in the central square of Athytos there is a display of folk exhibits created on the initiative of the painter Nikos Paralis. The items represent the whole cycle of rural life in the region, with domestic utensils, tools, implements and so on. Open: afternoons.
An ancient city with an Acropolis, homeland of the mythical Orpheus, it was situated between Ancient Leptokarya and Skotina, at the entrance to the great chasm which divides Lower from Upper Olympus
Excavations of the site were begun by the Byzantine Society of Thessaloniki in 1954. The repeated flooding of the area created the beds of the streams of Zilianas.
The Archaeological site extends for over 1,500 sq, kilometers (the city, Acropolis, Cemetery, etc.) surrounded by the beds of the streams, which were covered by age old plane forests.
This extends over the vast bulk of Mount Olympus being a continuation of this historical and archaeological area, and includes:
a) An enclosed Acropolis (about 15 stremmata in extent) which appears to date from the Hellenistic age. This place shows traces of the bed of the Grivas torrent, the remains of whose banks protected the ancient surrounding walls, built of squared stone.
b) The ancient settlement which was built to the North West and above The Acropolis. This date from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era.
c) An ancient cemetery possibly dating from the prehistoric period and the early Greek age (Mykenes, the Iron Age and early historical times.)
Stone walls, internal floor spaces, cobbled roads outside, coins and objects of worship are those things which have been excavated in the early stages of the project.
The Tomb of Lyson and Kallikles is one of the four Macedonian tombs of Lefkadia, built along the ancient road connecting the town of Mieza with Pella, the capital of the Macedonian Kingdom. The pottery discovered inside the tomb and the prosopography of the deceased indicate a date from the late third to the middle of the second centuries BC. Although the smallest tomb of the group, it is distinguished by its ornate interior. The tomb belonged to the family of Aristophanes, of which five generations were buried here. Their names are inscribed inside the rectangular niches set in two superimposed rows along the walls.
The tomb consists of a narrow ante-chamber and a rectangular burial chamber oriented north-south. The burial chamber was entered from the south through a double door. The ante-chamber has a flat ceiling and its walls have painted representations of a sprinkler and an altar. Over the door leading into the burial chamber are the names of the first two deceased, Lyson and Kallikles sons of Aristophanes. The burial chamber has twenty-two niches, of which seventeen received the ashes and grave gifts of deceased members of the family. The trompe-l'oeil Ionic antae give the impression of a true peristyle inside a garden. A continuous garland of leaves, pomegranates and ribbons crowns the peristyle, while the tympana on the short sides have paintings of weapons like those often placed as grave gifts - helmets, swords and two different types of Macedonian shields. The vividness of the colours and good state of preservation of the wall-paintings are due to the fact that the earthen tumulus covering the tomb was not removed after the monument's discovery, thus keeping the temperature and humidity inside the tomb stable. The stylistic similarities between the paintings of this tomb and the Second Pompeian Style indicate the close contacts between Hellenistic Greece and Republican Rome; this particular style (dubbed 'Architectural Style' by the archaeologist Stella Miller) may be the beginning or may have inspired the Second Pompeian Style.
The tomb was discovered by chance in 1942 and was excavated by Charalambos Makaronas who published a brief report. It was fully studied by Stella Miller. The monument is closed to the public in order to preserve the stable conditions which allowed for its remarkable preservation. A metal shelter was built over the tomb in 1999 for additional protection.
A place of universal interest, the ruins of Aristotle's School, is a found only 2 kilometers away from the contemporary Naoussa, at the district of Isvoria Here is the place with the racing water and the deeply-shaded caves, mentioned by the ancient writers, where the greatest philosopher of the antiquity taught the greatness of classical Greek thought and the ideals of the Platonic philosophy to the King's of Macedonia, Phillip II, son, Alexander and the other nobles of the Macedonian court. The encounter of these two Great personalities of the ancient world at the Nympheon of Mieza would definitely affect the future of mankind, and of all Western Civilization.
The area of the Nympheon, that is the sanctuary dedicated to the Nymphs, is a very impressive natural landscape, where the ancient remnants - a wall prop of a two-floored arcade with Ionic columns forming a Π- combined with the three natural caves which are found there, constitute the main grounds of the School. The vertical surface of the rock, where the openings for supporting the roof's girders are discernable, comprised the back-end of the shady stoa, (built at 350 B.C. and later), where Aristotle taught «the doctrines of morals and politics" (Plutarch VII, 668) to the youths of the Macedonian Nobility. The landscape, where the Great Teacher rambled with his students on the fully vegetation riverbank trails, among calm and cool streams of water, gushed from the springs around, is completed by an even greater cave, a little further off, with two carved entrances, obviously for devotional use.
E. Heuzen and N.Hammond posit that this was the site of the Battle of Pydna (168 B.C.), the outcome of which being the subjugation of the Macedonians to the Roman Empire.
The ruins of a Bishop's Palace from the 5th-6th C. was found to the east of the railway line from Thessaloniki to Athens.
A square tower, 80x90 m. was found situated on the Ancient Road from Pydna to Dion. The area was built on a plan which included four fortified towers, within the confines of which a 3 chambered Basilica and a Bishop's Palace, bounded by a covered aisle have been found.
The foundations of the buildings from 479 AD are probably those of the seat of the Bishop of Pydna.
The Bishop's Palace was built on the ruins of the 2nd century baths, a mosaic floor having been found beneath its floor, and to the East of the Palace is a villa with mosaic floors dating from the time of Konstantinou and the foundations of a building which were probably those of the local tax collector's offices.
The plan with four towers remained until the time of Justinian, when its fortified character changed due to the enlargement of the warehouses and workshops for the production of wine and olive oil. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the middle of the 6th Century, after which the church was rebuilt on the central slope, the previous building area being converted into a cemetery.
The town must have been abandoned during the Bulgarian invasion at the end of the 9th Century. Today's visitor can see three of the towers, the Bishops Palace, the mosaic floors of the 4th C villa, the tombs, the springs, the ovens for baking the tiles and those in which glass was fired.
To the west of Ancient Pydna and the South west of present day Makrigialos lies one of the largest pre-historic settlements in Greece.
It came to light as the result of excavations carried out by the 16th Society for Prehistoric and Classical Studies, which began in1992.
The site was excavated over an area of 60 sq km, though it is estimated that the area of the settlement covered something like 500 sq. km.
It included dwellings and land under cultivation, and artifacts such as clay pots, stone tools from a wide range of materials and small utensils were found. Idols made of clay and marble also came to light, as did the charred remains of seeds and a plethora of animal bones.
The exhibition is arranged in chronological order, in three rooms: Room A (vestibule) contains finds of the prehistoric period. Of the most important exhibits are the Neolithic figurines and tools from the settlement at Kolchis (case 1, upper and lower shelf).
Case 2 contains a small collection of fine bronze jewellery dated to the Early Iron Age, from various sites of the Kilkis region. It includes mostly bracelets with many spirals, rings and pendants, the latter presenting a variety of types and shapes, such as anchors, pyxides, birds and vases (upper and lower shelf).
Due to the restricted space of the Museum, in the same room are also exhibited a funerary stele with a relief representation of a rider, part of an Attic sarcophagus with a representation of young men and a horse, and a honorary decree of the city of Morrylos (Ano Apostoloi).
Room B contains excavation finds from the Iron Age cemetery at Old Gynaikokastro, including characteristic urns and grave offerings, weapons, knives, double axes, and jewellery. Reproductions of burials are displayed at the corners of the same room.
Finds of the historic periods, mostly sculpture, vases, jewellery, and objects of everyday life are displayed in Room C. Among the most impressive exhibits are: the kouros of Europos, dated to the end of the 6th century B.C., four statues from the Heroon of Palatiano, dated to the 2nd century A.D., a statue of Dionysos, also from Palatiano, and two statues of Apollo and Aphrodite, from Mikro Dasos and Chorygio, respectively.
Items given by individuals or found during old excavations are exhibited in cases 6 and 7. The centre of Case 6 is occupied by a well preserved Classical helmet with an incised scene of facing lions on the front, while the rest of the items are vases and figurines from various sites.
Case 7 (upper shelf), includes clay, gilt plaques with representations of griffins devouring stags, and many other items, all grave offerings found at Philyria.
Finds from the excavations of Palatiano, mostly objects of everyday life activities, are exhibited in case 8. Impressive among them are the bone spoons, the incised loom-weights, and the terracotta statuettes.
The archaeological site of Dion (meaning “the city of Zeus” in Greek) is located in the Pieria region, about 30 minutes from Thessaloniki. It boasts a large temple dedicated to Zeus, a series of other smaller temples and a 2,200 year-old exquisite statue of the Greek goddess Hera. It was in Dion that Alexander the Great assembled his army before he began his conquests to the west.
⇠ Thessaloniki 70km ⇠ Polygyros 16km
Nea Olynthos lies next to the site of ancient Olynthos (+1.5km) and is the modern counterpart of the Byzantine village of Myriofyto. It is said to have taken its present name from its founder, Olynthos, brother of the Thracian king Rissos. Others claim the name comes from the hero Olynthos, son of the river god Strymon.
• Ancient Olynthos. It was located on the heights east of the present village. The area is fenced and the entrance is at the southwest foot of the heights. The location of the city has been known since the 19th century. The people in the area called it “Pirgos” after a Byzantine tower that was build there to protect the “metochi” of the Mt Athos monastery of Kastamonitou. Only the foundation of this Tower is preserved today, at the southern end of the city. For 100 years Olynthos was the most important city of Halkidiki. Its foundation goes back to mythical times. The city was destroyed in 480 B.C. by the Persians. The evidence from the excavations show that the archaic city, which was a continuation of the prehistoric one, was built on the southern hill. The north hill seems to have been the area of the new settlement of the Chalkideans. The accuracy of the city plan of Olynthos helps us understand how the Ippodamio city planning system was applied. Although the ruins are remarkable, the findings of the excavations are exhibited at the Museums of Thessaloniki and Polygyros.
• The ruins of the Byzantine church of St Nicholas, a structure of the 10th or 11th century.
• North of Olynthos, at the site known as Mariana, there is a fortified tower dating from the 14th century, built by the Docheiariou Monastery on Mt. Athos.
• About 7km from the village is the site of the ancient city of Mikyverna, the port of Olynthos, which must have been destroyed when Olynthos was laid waste by Phillip II in 348 B.C.
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Walk through the ancient roads of Olynthos and admire the perfection of the architecture.
More about Ancient town Olynthos
The area was constantly inhabited since the Neolithic Age. According to mythology, the town was built by the brother of Olynthos, the son of the mythic King of Thrace, Strymonas. Olynthos was killed by a lion and his brother built the town to honour his brother’s name. However, the linguists insist that olynthos is the name of the wild fig tree, which is in abundance in the area, and the town was named after it.
Around 650 BC refugees from Pieria, hunted by the Macedonian army, settled in the area. The Persian army destroyed the town in 479 BC. and offered the region to their allies from Evia (Halkida). Later on, Olynthos joined the Athenian Alliance and then the Community of Halkida (Evia). From this alliance the town gained great profits (mainly financial). So, it became the capital of the Euboan colonies in Halkidiki and was able to support a huge army (about 20.000 soldiers). During the Peloponnesian War the area grew more, had its own monetary unit and provided protection to all the Euboan refugees in Greece.
When the Macedonian State faded, the army of Olynthos conquered its territories and reached the ancient town of Pella (389 BC). In 382 BC, after a three year-long siege, the Spartans captured the town and destroyed the Euboan Community. Nevertheless, the town quickly recovered and became wealthy and powerful again. In 348 BC the Macedonian Army, under the command of Philip II, conquered it and destroyed it. The town was never again inhabited and its destruction is remembered as one of the darkest moments of the entire ancient world.
The excavation by Professor Manolis Andronikos and his associates under the Great Tumulus of Vergina village in Imathia, Central Macedonia in 1977 brought to light the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century in Greece. Today’s Vergina (Ancient Aigai), in the foothills of Mt. Pieria, was the first capital of ancient kingdom of Macedonia, called Aigai. The site of the Royal Tombs under a modern roof hosts the main excavation, as well as an exhibition of the major finds from the burials. It is protected by UNESCO as world cultural heritage and comprises a unique discovery of an enormous universal impact.
In the same area, inhabited continuously since the 3rd millennium BC, are also the ruins of an acropolis, palace, theater, shrines and private buildings, and hundreds of common graves of an extensive necropolis of the ancient city of Aigai until Roman times.
The exhibition’s shelter has the external form of the Great Tumulus, a man-made mound, while the underground building has been housing since November 1997 tombs and treasures found in them. This sheltered group includes three Macedonian tombs: the intact tomb of Philip II (II) with a hunting scene fresco painting. Intact is also the so-called Tomb of the Prince (III), which may belong to Alexander IV, grandson of Philip II and his son Alexander the Great and another ruined and plundered Macedonian tomb (IV) of the third BC century.
The visitor will also see a plundered a cist family tomb (I), known as the “Tomb of Persephone”, with the incomparable fresco of the abduction of Persephone by Hades and a ruined building named "Heroon", probably used for the worship of the dead royal members buried next door. Some of the major finds exhibited here are the two golden urns, containing the bones of Philip II and one of his wives, two oak and one myrtle golden wreaths worn by the royal dead. On display is also the rare gold-and-purple embroidered cloth, which wrapped the bones of the royal wife, along with her golden diadem of a unique art, two ivory symposium beds, weapons and armor of Philip II, valuable symposium utensils of the royal family and the silver urn of "Prince."
Two kilometres from the Thessaloniki–Kavala national highway, just above the mouth of the River Strymon, is the archaeological site of ancient Amphipolis (a city founded in 437 bc) and the Archaeological Museum.
The museum is housed in a new building that was completed in 1995. The finds are displayed in chronological order and comprise the following groups: the prehistoric period (from Mount Pangaio and Ketil Tepes Hill); the Archaic period (from Kasta Hill and the Iron Age cemetery at Amphipolis); the Classical and Hellenistic periods (from the Archaic Gymnasium, the Hellenistic cemetery, the Hellenistic house, and from excavations on the archaeological site), the Roman period (mosaics from a Roman house and from excavations in the local cemetery); the Early Christian period (from five Early Christian basilicas at Amphipolis); and the modern era (from a chapel found at a low elevation near Nea Amphipoli).
Address: Amphipolis, GR 650 52 Serres, Macedonia, Greece
Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 8.00–14.30
⇠ Thessaloniki 108km ⇠ Polygyros 52km
Stagira is a Greek village situated at the foot of the Argirolofos hill. The village stands approximately 8km southwest of the ancient Stagira, the birthplace of Aristotle. The village’s former name was Sidirokafsia and dates back from the Byzantine Era. The area is mentioned already in the beginning of the 10th century AC, when the mines were in full operation. Later on, monasteries from Mount Athos took over their management. From the 15th century and through all the years of the Ottoman Occupation, the mining and elaboration of the minerals became more intense, mainly when the village was under the control of Madem Agas. In the 16th century a castle was built, of which there are still remainders to be seen. During mint century the village also had its own mint.
• Aristotle’s park. The Theme park is located in a most beautiful area with a marvellous view towards the gulf of Ierissos and the whole peninsula of Athos. When the weather is good you can see some of the monasteries on Mount Athos using a telescope. It also includes a series of other instruments which when used properly will show the phenomena of nature. All of this is dedicated to the famous philosopher and his work called “the Natural”. The instruments include a prism, optical discs, sounding bars, a compass, sundial and pendulum – all illustrating important phenomena studied by the great philosopher.
• The fortress complex, of which only three partly ruined towers exist today as well as the ruins of the public bath that Ishak Pasha constructed in the 15th century.
• The central temple dedicated to the “Birthday of the Virgin Mary”, built in 1814. Also interesting is the small chapel dedicated to the “Virgin Mary the Spilotissa” built in rock.
• The ruins of Sidirocaussia. Many ruins exist around the hill of St. Demetrios (the site of the bath).
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Walk in the evergreen paths and admire a panoramic view.
More about Ancient town Stagira
The birthplace of the philosopher Aristotle was a colony of Andros, founded in 655 B.C. The first name of the city was Orthagoria. Ally, initially of the Athenians and later of the Spartans, the city was occupied by Philippos in 349 B.C., after the destruction of Olynthos. Philippos, however, rebuilt the city in order to honour the great philosopher, tutor of Alexander the Great. When Aristotle died, his fellow-citizens transported his bones to Stagira and set up a monument. The excavations in the region began in 1990. The most impressive piece that was brought to light is the wall, at the top of the hill that was built in the classic years. The different ways of construction can be distinguished. The wall determines the western limits of the ancient city, surrounded by the sea. The powerful fortification supplemented round and square towers and ramparts that connected with heavy scales. At the top of the hill also appears the relic of the citadel. At the part behind, between the hills, is the well-maintained remainder from some beautiful, spacious public building, with a gallery and a monumental facade with pillars.
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was born in Stagira. He was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Platon and teacher of Alexander the Great. He is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics. Aristotle was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon. During that time he gave lessons not only to Alexander, but also to two other future kings: Ptolemy and Kassander.
More about Aristotle’s park
Aristotle’s park is located in Stagira. The Theme park includes a series of other instruments which when used properly will show the phenomena of nature such as: Solar, Lens, Pentaphone, Optical Discs, Pendulum, Water turbine, Inertia spheres, Parabolic reflectors and Telescopes. Aristotle’s Park is an excellent place to learn about activities and interactive games. When the weather is good, you are able to see some of the monasteries on Mouth Athos, using the telescopes.