Vergina

Vergina

At the roots of the citadel hill, on an elevated terrace that dominates the area and is marked by a century-old oak, are preserved the impressive ruins of the palace that seal with their imposing presence even today the image of the ruins of the city. The palace of the Goats, which was the main pole of the great building program of Philip II in the cradle-city of the dynasty, should have been completed before 336 BC, when the king under the pretext of his daughter’s weddings with Alexander the Great Epirus celebrated its omnipotence here. With an area of ​​approx. 9,250 sq.m. m. on the ground floor, the building, a large part of which was two-storey, is larger than the Hellenistic palaces of Demitriados and Pergamon, while it is much better preserved and its form is much clearer and more legible than the “kingdoms”

Integrated in the same building unit with the theater next to it, the large rectangular building is oriented according to the geographical axes. The access was made from the east side, where in a pioneering way for the time the facade was formed with the monumental propylon in the center of an impressive Doric colonnade. The marble thresholds of the triple royal entrance are still preserved in place, while the stone architectural members that mimic shutters and the graceful Ionic capitals found fallen here must have come from the façade of the floor. The combination of rhythms, Doric and Ionian, which we already find in the Parthenon, will become a dominant trend for the Macedonian architecture that seems to be characterized by “functional eclecticism”.

Passing the propylon one reaches the courtyard that traditionally was the center, around which the spaces and functions of each house were articulated. Like the façade, the courtyard, which is exactly square, acquires here a completely normal monumental form with a huge peristyle, on each side of which there are 16 stone Doric columns that return from the typical Doric frieze. Made of porcelain, the architectural members were covered with delicate mortars that should be imagined to shine in the white of the marble and to be varied with vivid blue and red.

The courtyard, which can comfortably seat more than two thousand people, functioned not only as the lungs of the house, but mainly as a place where the political and social life of the state was concentrated. On the east side of the palace there is a large circular hall, called the dome votive inscriptions were found that mention the “father Hercules”, the god that the Macedonian kings honored as their ancestor along with the base of a structure that could be an altar or pedestal. The places in this area seem to have a “sacred” character, serving the increased worship needs of the king who was at the same time high priest.

Banquet halls, men, with floors paved with pebble mosaics existed on the east and north sides where two corridors led from the peristyle to the balcony, a spacious terrace with panoramic views of the city and the entire Macedonian basin which is another innovation of Goats.

The five spaces on the south side seem to have a particularly formal character, of which three form a closed ensemble with access from the middle which gives the impression of a vestibule, as it opens to the courtyard with a very monumental multi-door with three Ionic backs. All these spaces had mosaic floors, one of which is preserved in good condition. Made of tiny white, black, gray, but also yellow and red pebbles, this mosaic resembles a rug with an impressive flower blooming in its center, framed by intricate spiral sprouts and flowers inscribed in a circle. The multiple meander and the spiral meander that adorn the circumference of the circle are very similar to those found in the ivory shield of Philip II. Blonde fairies, half women-half flowers,

Around the mosaic there is a wide staircase, on which the beds of the attendees for the banquets were placed. Similar constructions were present in the other rooms of the palace and they confirm that they were all used as banquet spaces. More modest are the three huge rooms on the west side with the marble countertops. It is estimated that the palace had space for a total of 278 beds. In other words, Filippos could give a banquet to more than 500 guests at a time, a number unprecedented for the Greek data.

Equipped with all the comforts of the season, the palace had an impeccable drainage and water supply system that brought here the cool water from the mountain springs. On the floor on the east and west sides, as usual, were the women’s apartments and dormitories. Particularly impressive and luxurious was the Corinthian-style tiling of the roofs.

Combining in an extremely inventive way elements of public and private architecture, the genius architect of the palace of Aigai manages to create a building unique, simple and functional and at the same time absolutely monumental and imposing, giving real form and substance to the idea of ​​dominance. Thus the residence of the king of the Macedonians, the ruler and general of the Panhellenes, the only palaceof classical Greece that we know, being the seat of political power and at the same time the center of intellectual creation, becomes a true monument of grandeur, functionality and mathematical purity, which through the absolute consistency of its geometry summarizes the quintessence of well-being, implementing the model of the ideal home and being the archetype of the building with a peristyle that will seal the architecture of the Hellenistic universe and will be repeated thousands of times throughout the Hellenistic world, without any of the repetitions reaching the clarity, completeness and absolute purity of the original

In the years of the Antigonids, in the 3rd c. e.g. a new wing with a peristyle courtyard was built to the west of the palace to meet the increased needs of the occupants. After the overthrow of the kingdom by the Romans in 168 BC. the palace is destroyed along with the city of Aigai and is never rebuilt. However, despite the destruction, the place seems to hold in the consciousness of the inhabitants something of its sanctity and not only is it not trampled but, as the altar and relics of the sacrifices of late Roman times found in the room with the mosaic, it becomes a place of worship .

Aigai disappears and is forgotten, however, the memory of the royal house still lives on in the Byzantine name Palatitzia that haunts the place to this day. Even the worship continues in the place that in the collective memory was recorded as a sacred place. After the Roman altar came the small church of the Holy Trinity: built in the shade of the age-old oak tree during the years of Ottoman rule, it was dismantled in 1961 to proceed with the excavation.

In the meantime the palace became a dam and the villages of the area were built with its stones, last of all in the twenties Vergina herself.

Telephone: +30 23310 92347

Email: vergina@culture.gr, efahma@culture.gr

Author
Angeliki Kottaridis
 

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