Philippi was cherished in antiquity for its nearby gold mines and convenient harbour. It flourished during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times. It also became an important centre of early Christianity and pilgrimage. It was abandoned in the 14th century after the Ottoman conquest. Today, the archaeological site of Philippi is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Many of the extensive remains including fortifications and a theatre were built by Philip II the king of Macedonia in the 4th century BC. The Roman Emperor Augustus expanded the city with the Roman agora and other buildings central to everyday ancient life, such as baths, cisterns and latrines.
Metropolitan of Early Christianity
The remains of some churches can still be seen, including two basilicas (A and B) and the 5th century Octagonal Church that was built on the site of an earlier church dedicated to Apostle Paul. The basilicas were built in the style of the Byzantine churches of Constantinople.
The so-called “Cell of St Paul” is claimed be where Paul and Silas were imprisoned. But it is believed to be an old water cistern which was subsequently converted into a cult shrine.
- Philippi was originally named Crenides (meaning “Fountains”) and renamed after Philip II of Macedon who was the father of Alexander the Great.
- Philippi had 2 marketplaces as the Roman’s Forum was built beside the original Greek agora. The paved remains of what is believed to be a section of the original Via Egnatia.
- The on-site Archaeological Museum of Philippi exhibits the finds from the excavations in the ancient city as well as presentation of the Christian city from the Early Christian period of its rise until its decline in the 7th century AD.