A coronation site for one of the world’s greatest military leaders is open again.
On Sunday, the Palace of Aigai in Vergina, Greece, where Alexander the Great was crowned King of Macedonia around 2,400 years ago, started welcoming back guests. The historic proper-ty, formally known as the Royal Metropolis of the Macedonians, spans approximately 161,500 square feet, according to the Greek Cultural Ministry. It was mostly built by the young king’s father, Philip II of Macedonia, in the 4th century BCE and was once the largest building in the country.
It took the Greek government 16 years of work, help from the European Union and more than $21.9 million to restore the palace, the country’s cultural minis-try said. These efforts included excavation of the site, documentation and the conservation of discovered artifacts. Up to 15,000 square feet of mosaics were restored, along with the marble flooring and ancient columns. The team was careful to preserve the site’s classic appearance though.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis inaugurated the revamped palace last Friday, where he was photographed alongside the towering columns and colour-ful stone floors.
“It is the place where Alexander the Great was crowned King, a short while after his father’s assassination, to start his glorious campaign,” Mitsotakis said.
When Alexander succeeded his father on the throne in 336 B.C., aged 20, he led military campaigns that saw him conquer a giant area stretching from modern-day Greece to Egypt, Iran, northern India and central Asia. His reign also set the foundation for the Greek influence in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea for the preceding 1,000 years. Alexander’s expansive empire marked what historians call the Hellenistic period, which lasted from his death to the rise of the Roman Empire. The Palace of Aigai was destroyed by the Romans in 148 BCE.
“The importance of such monuments transcends local boundaries, becoming property of all humanity,” added Mitsotakis.
“And we as the custodians of this precious cultural heritage, we must protect it, highlight it, promote it and at the same time expand the horizons revealed by each new facet.”
Speaking to daily newspaper The Guardian, British historian and broadcaster Michael Wood, said, “History is always about what we focus on. And this focuses our attention on the incredible events that began there. This small, provincial, militaristic kingdom would be the catalyst for the spread of Greek culture and Aigai the launch pad for Alexander the Great’s adventure in history, his expedition to Asia and conquest of half the known world.”
He added that the palace’s reconstruction had shown, yet again, that like the Parthenon marbles, great historical monuments have “an integrity” best seen united in their natural landscape.
“The modern Greek state, as it should be, is proving to be a pre-eminent guardian of its ancient Greek culture,” said Wood.
“What the palace also does is draw attention to the fact that the fifth-century sculptures should all be in the same place, back in Athens.”

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