Built more than 2,300 years ago, the site would mark the rise of Alexander the Great before being destroyed by Romans in 148 BC.
On Friday, the 2,300-year-old Palace of Aigai in northern Greece was fully reopened. Its reintroduction to the world is part of a 16-year renovation that has cost more than 20 million euros ($22 million) and included financial support from the European Union.
— Derek Gatopoulos (@dgatopoulos) January 5, 2024
The imposing structure takes up an area of approximately 15,000 square meters (3.7 acres) and is the largest building seen in classical antiquity. It was dubbed by one academic as the “Macedonian Parthenon”, as the Parthenon could actually fit inside of it three times.
“After many years of painstaking work, we can reveal the palace… What we are doing today is an event of global importance,” Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during an inauguration event at the site on Friday.
The palace “has a cultural and national character, because it confirms the Greek identity of Macedonia throughout the centuries,” Mitsotakis added.
Built more than 2,300 years ago during the reign of Phillip II who had transformed Macedonia into a dominant military power, the palace was where Alexander the Great was crowned king at the age of 20 after a political rival assassinated his father in 336 BCE.
Two years later Alexander would begin his conquest in the East that took him as far as modern-day Afghanistan.
Palace of Aigai (359-336 BC), Macedonia/Greece
In 336 BC king Philip II was assassinated in Aigai’s theatre and his son, Alexander the Great was proclaimed king.
The Palace of Aigai is considered the most important building of Classical Greece along with the Parthenon in Athens pic.twitter.com/fqXpMCA1eq
— Greek Heritage (@greece_heritage) January 5, 2024
The inauguration of the restored palace of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, in #Aigai, #Macedonia, #Greece took place today in the presence of @PrimeministerGR, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. A momentous occasion of global significance. Read more ➡️https://t.co/HlnwLF6DN2 pic.twitter.com/ZF5Tof17ib
— Embassy of Greece in the US🇬🇷 (@GreeceInUSA) January 5, 2024
The palace features a monumental propylon (a temple entrance), a mega peristyle (with 16 Doric columns on each side and could have accommodated 8,000 people), a dome, a library, and a “smaller” western peristyle that served auxiliary uses.
Sadly, this impressive piece of history was destroyed by the Romans in 148 BC. But excavations to unearth the site began in 1865 and continued until the 20th century. The restoration project then got off the ground in 2007 with assistance from the European Union—with an investment which is predicted to help boost Greece’s tourist revenue.