In 1977, on the plain of southern Macedonia, 80 km southeast of Thessaloniki, at the foot of the Pierian Mountains, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time was made. The ancient city of Aigai, the first capital of the Macedonian kingdom, was discovered. The wealth of finds is rare and of incalculable archaeological and historical significance, so much so that the territory of the kings of Macedonia, the land of Philip and Alexander, Eurydice and Olympia, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Archaeological finds show that the territory of Vergina was inhabited by the first settlers as early as the third millennium BC. Fertile plains, abundant water supplies and natural fortifications were ideal conditions for creating a prosperous city. The name "Aigai" reflects the richness of the region as it means "land of many herds". During the Iron Age, from the 11th to the 7th centuries BC, most of Aigai was a major residential centre.
Excavations have revealed important settlements and burial sites, the size of which indicates the presence of a large population. Artistic crafts and rich jewelry are evidence of the prosperity and importance of the region.
Herodotus mentions the noble family of Temen, natives of Argos, as the city's prominent founding settlers, whose line was supposedly descended from Hercules himself (they were also known as the Heraclides). Under Perdiccas I, a descendant of Temen, Aigai became the seat of the Macedonian dynasty and one of the strongest centers of the ancient world. The golden “kterismata” (grave offerings) of the necropolis of unimaginable beauty are irrefutable evidence of its prosperity, importance and historical existence of Aigai. For three centuries, until the 4th century BC, it was the spiritual, artistic and administrative center of Macedonia, before handing over the reins of power to Pella.
A traveler who is lucky enough to visit the archaeological site of Aigai will be delighted by the greatness of the Macedonian dynasty. The royal tombs, burial mounds with abundant Iron Age gifts, the palace, theatre, the temple of Eukleia, the Acropolis and the city wall are the living history of the Macedonian kingdom.
Beds of gold and ivory, exquisite frescoes, golden reliquaries (“larnacas”) of indescribable beauty, royal armament, ivory reliefs carved with great skill - all these discovered archaeological finds reveal the glory, power and significance of the dynasty, which under the leadership of Alexandra spread to the farthest corners of the then known world.
A journey to Vergina is a journey towards the light. This light, which shines so brightly from the golden sun of Vergina, symbolizes the radiant Macedonian civilization.