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Kavala - Philippi

The City of Kavala, or the "Small Monte Carlo" as they use to call it, is the second largest city in northern Greece, the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and the capital of Kavala prefecture. It is situated on the Bay of Kavala, across from the island of Thasos.

The city was founded by settlers from Thassos in about the 6th century BC, who called it Neapolis. Kavala's medieval castle is located at a hill above the town. Additionally, the town's fortifications are still widely visible, especially in the coastal front. Mehmet Ali, the founder of a dynasty that ruled Egypt, was born in Kavala, his house has been preserved as a museum.

Kavala is built amphitheatrically, with most residents enjoying superb views of the coast and sea. From the point of the cache you can enjoy a beautiful panorama view of Kavala.

Panorama View of Kavala
Live webcam of Kavala


Philippi (Philippoi) was established by the king of Macedon, Philip II in 356 BC, on the site of the Thasian colony of Krinides or Crenides, near the head of the Aegean Sea at the foot of Mt. Orbelos about 8 miles north-west of Kavalla, on the northern border of the marsh that in Antiquity covered the entire plain separating it from the Pangaion hills to the south of Greece.

The city remained despite its modest size of perhaps 2000 people. Almost nothing is known about the city in this period, aside from the walls, the Greek theatre, the foundations of a house under the Roman forum and a little temple dedicated to a hero cult. This monument covers the tomb of a certain Exekestos, is possibly situated on the agora. In AD 49 or 50, the city was visited by the apostle Paul who was guided there by a vision (Acts 16:9-10).

The archaeological site of Philippi lies on either side of Highway 12; it is best to begin your visit on the south side, across the highway from the ticket booth. The entrance leads right onto a section of the Via Egnatia, the main east-west road through the city. The road was built by the Romans, but over top of an earlier Hellenistic road.

Adjacent to the road is the Roman forum, the administrative center of Philippi. On the west side was a temple, probably dedicated to Antoninus Pius as part of the imperial cult. Other temples surround the forum as well. South of the forum is Commercial Road, which was lined with shops. There are still games engraved in the floor.

On the southern half of the Commercial Agora and extending further east are the splendid ruins of a Christian basilica church dating from 550 AD. Known as Basilica B, the Direkler (Turkish for "columns"), or the Pillars Basilica, the church had three aisles and a square nave covered with a dome.

East of the Roman agora are the remains of the Octagon or Basilica of Paul, a cathedral church built c.400 AD over the ruins of an earlier chapel. A mosaic inscription here reads, "Porphyrios, bishop, made the embroidery [mosaic floor] of the basilica of Paul in Christ." The Octagon was destroyed in the early 7th century.

North of the Octagon were more ecclesiastical buildings, including a baptismal area with a dressing room, font, and anointing room. This complex incoporated a 2nd-century Hellenistic heroon (shrine of a hero) dedicated to Euephenes, who also appears in a list of initiates into the cult of the "Great Gods" at Samothrace. Northeast of the Octagon complex are the ruins of the episcopal palace, which also included staff apartments, offices, winepresses, storerooms and courtyards.

Across the highway is a large three-aisled church known as Basilica A. Built towards the end of the 5th century, it had a marble floor and was ornately furnished with frescoes and sculptures. A heroon was also incorporated into this basilica.

To the east of the stairway is a structure traditionally identified as St. Paul's Prison (Acts 16). However, this is not where a prison would have been located, and it was actually a Roman cistern or crypt transformed into a Christian chapel. There are some frescoes inside.

West of Basilica A is yet another early Christian church, dubbed Basilica C. Dating from the 6th century, it has three aisles, chapels, and a gallery accessed by a spiral staircase. It was also beautiful decorated and paved in marble, and a large amount of colored glass was found in the ruins. The church was destroyed in the 7th century and subsequently used as a cemetery.

Nearby is the Philippi Archaeological Museum, with artifacts from Philippi and surrounding areas. A path on the north side of the museum leads to the acropolis, which includes a variety of Hellenistic sanctuaries and a theater.

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