Via Egnatia in Philippi

Via Egnatia in Philippi



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Via Egnatia in Philippi - History

PHILIPPI fĭl’ ə pī ( οἱ Φίλιπποι , city of Philip). A city of Macedonia, visited by the Apostle Paul (Acts 16:1, 12-40 20:6 Phil 1:1 1 Thess 2:2).

1. Topography. The city was located in eastern Macedonia in a plain E of Mount Pangaeus between the Strymon and Nestos Rivers. It was near the banks of a deep and rapid stream, the Gangites, about ten m. from the sea. To the SE ran the Via Egnatia over a very rocky ridge to the port of Neapolis. Hence, Paul is said to have “sailed away from Philippi” ( 20:6 ). In ancient times, the city derived its importance from the fertile plain that it commanded, its strategic location along the Via Egnatia and the gold mines in the mountains to the north.

2. History. The site was first inhabited by colonists from the island of Thasos, who worked the gold mines. It was known as Krenides, “springs.” Philip II of Macedon recognized its importance and sent a large colony there in 356 b.c. He changed its name to Philippi (Diodorus, XVI. vii. 6, 7). The mines, though almost exhausted, still provided Philip with more than a thousand talents a year.

After the Macedonians were defeated by the Romans in 167 b.c. Philippi was part of the first district, but the capital of the region was Amphipolis. In 146 b.c. it became part of the reorganized province of Macedonia, whose capital was Thessalonica. The decisive battle of the second civil war was fought at Philippi in 42 b.c. Brutus and Cassius had drawn up their forces near the Via Egnatia to the W of the city. Antony successfully attacked Cassius’ camp. The latter committed suicide without knowing that Brutus’ forces had been successful against Octavian. Three weeks later, Brutus was defeated and the war ended.

The city was enlarged by a colony of Rom. veterans after the war. Augustus Caesar later opened up the city for supporters of Antony who had been stripped of their holdings in Italy. The first colony, Colonia Victrix Philippensium, is attested only by coinage. The second colony was known as Colonia Julia Philippensis, later changed to Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis. Because it was a Rom. colony, it had a form of government independent of the provincial administration. There were two chief magistrates, στρατηγοί , who were assisted by lictors, RSV “police” (Acts 16:35).

3. Archeology. The ancient city has been partially excavated by the French School at Athens from 1914 to 1938. The forum lay to the S of the Via Egnatia. In the center of it was found a large rostrum, which may have been where Paul and Silas were dragged by the owners of the demon-possessed slave girl. Two large temples are identified along with numerous public and private buildings of the 2nd cent. a.d. A Rom. theater of the same period was built into the side of the acropolis. A mile W of the city are the ruins of a Rom. arch near the River Gangites. An arch usually symbolized the city limits or pomerium of a Rom. settlement. Within the pomerium nothing impure, such as cemeteries or sanctuaries of foreign religions, could be established. This may account for the fact that Paul and Silas went “outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer” (Acts 16:13). Nonrabbinic sources attest the ancient habit of the Jews to recite prayers near rivers or the seashore (Philo Flaccus 14 Jos. Antiq. XIV. x. 23).

4. Biblical importance. The text of Acts 16:12 in regard to the standing of the city is difficult. א , A and E read πρώτη τῆς μερίδος Μακεδονίας πόλις, κολωνία , “the leading city of Macedonia, and a Roman colony.” Numerous variant readings show that the text was widely misunderstood. Crell has suggested that it should be changed to read πρώτης τῆς μερίδος Μακεδονίας πόλις, κολωνία , “a city and colony of the first part [district] of Macedonia.” Others have suggested that the city had some distinction in the 1st cent. a.d. that has not been recorded. Ramsay maintains that there is a touch of pride in Luke’s description, because he was a native of Philippi. The city had a famous school of medicine, which was connected with one of the guilds of physicians that sent its adherents throughout the Hel. world. Luke may, therefore, claim that Philippi was the first city of Macedonia, just as Pergamum, Smyrna and Ephesus all claimed to be the “first city of Asia.”

The Apostle Paul first preached in Europe at Philippi. He came there from Troy by way of Neapolis on the second missionary journey. He went to a place of prayer beside the river on the sabbath where he sat down with a group of women, among them, Lydia, a seller of purple dye from Thyatira. On the way there he was admonished by a slave girl with a spirit of divination, who annoyed him for some time thereafter. Finally, he exorcized the demon to the displeasure of her owners. They dragged Paul and Silas before the magistrates of the city and accused them of disturbing the peace by advocating customs that the Romans did not accept. The crowd joined in and the magistrates gave orders for Paul and Silas to be scourged. They were then put in stocks in the inner prison. At midnight an earthquake shook the prison to its foundation. Fearful that his prisoners had escaped, the jailer contemplated suicide. Paul indicated to him that he and Silas were still there. As a result of Paul’s witness, the man believed, and he and his family were baptized. The next day the authorities learned that Paul and Silas were Rom. citizens, apologized to them and asked them to leave the city. They then visited Lydia and other believers before they departed for Thessalonica (Acts 16:12-40).

At this point in the narrative of Acts the pronoun of the first person is dropped until Paul returned to Macedonia on the third missionary journey (Acts 20:5). Many conjecture that Luke, a native of Philippi or, at least, a medical student there at one time, was left behind to work among the churches of Macedonia.

Paul expressed a deep affection for the church at Philippi in a letter written to it while he was in prison either at Rome or Ephesus. The letter was written to thank the church for the gifts of funds and clothing that Epaphroditus had brought to him. After his imprisonment, Paul may again have visited Philippi (1 Tim 1:3).


Ancient Via Egnatia

The town of Kavala has the good fortune of preserving at its outskirts a large section of the ancient Via Egnatia. This is the old arterial road that, until the early 20th century, was the main road that connected Neapolis (an earlier name for Kavala) with the ancient city of Philippi. This route is of great historical and cultural significance. As a walking route, it has no particular difficulties, can be completed in a short period of time and is an easy route.

The Greek Mountaineering Club of Kavala describes the route as follows:

The ancient Via Egnatia is today divided into two sections, due to the motorways from Agios Silas that have been built. One section runs down from Agios Silas to the village of Stavros, looks out over the plain of Philippi and has a length of 400 m. The second and more interesting section of the old Via Egnatia, with a length of 1100 m, begins at the intersection of Egnatia and Makedonia Streets, beneath the Egnatia Hotel, and ends up at Jokaste Street. You can easily walk the well-preserved stone pavement that ascends alongside the stream or, even better, walk down it with the beautiful view of the town and its Fortress in front of you, while at the same time getting an idea of the picture visitors to Kavala saw in the old days.


History

With a history carved in the stone and the sea, the “apple of discord” of conquerors, and flooded with the fragrances of trade from West and East, Kavala stands proudly in Northern Greece with its authentic beauty.

Night view of the city from the caste: Photo by Iraklis Milias

Its geographical location, its natural port and its adjacency with gold-bearing Mt Pangaion make Kavala one of the oldest coastal towns, with its traces being lost in the mists of prehistory.

It was to this town that the Apostle Paul came to teach the message of Christianity for the first time in Europe in 49 AD, and baptised Lydia, the first European Christian woman, on the banks of the River Zygaktis.

Until 1864, the Old Town was confined to the triangular peninsula on Kavala hill, which was itself a continuation of ancient Neapolis and Byzantine Christoupolis. Within this same space, the same city appeared in different eras, and with different names. Each name was characteristic and corresponded to a historical period. Neapolis in ancient times, Christoupolis during the Byzantine period, and Kavala in the modern era.

During the Ottoman period, the town was razed to the ground, to be reborn from its ashes and, from the 18th century, once again became an important commercial port, acquiring its current, modern appearance.

PREHISTORIC YEARS – DIKILI TASH

Pots in Ntikili Tas’ section 6: Photo by Ephorate of Antiquities of Kavala and Thassos

Approximately 2 km from the ruins of the ancient city of Philippi and within the boundaries of today’s region of Krinides (Municipality of Kavala) is Dikili Tash, otherwise known as Orthopetra. This is a prehistoric settlement that dates to the Neolithic period (6400-4000 BC) and the Bronze Age (3000-1100 BC). Dikili Tash hides many secrets that have not yet been uncovered.

The earliest traces of a human presence in the region of the modern town date to the Late Neolithic period (5400-3200 BC). Archaeological research and excavations at the peak of the low hill at Perigiali, to the east of Kavala, have brought to light a small settlement of the Early Bronze Age (3200-1600 BC).

Mount Paggeo: Photo by Iraklis Milas

Pangaio is associated with a “treasury” of myths connected to two important aspects of the ancient world, the Dionysiac religion and Orphism. Orpheus shaped the Dionysiac rituals and systematised them, thus making them better known as the Orphic Mysteries. Orpheus is a strange mythological figure, without the clear features of a hero, god, or demigod. He introduced specific mystery rituals, and was a religious poet, prophet and priest. He was also celebrated for his musical achievements, in song and as a cithar player.

In later years, Pangaio attracted many peoples and tribes from its surrounding areas. For centuries, its rich mines produced plenty of gold and silver.

Map of “Thassians Peraia” colonies: source Historical Data of Kavala county, Kavala 2010

In the early 7th BC century, colonists from the island of Paros founded the city of Thassos on the island of this name. In the mid-7th century BC, the Thassians, along with new migrants from Paros, conquered the coast opposite the island, a rich place thanks to its fertile farmland and wealth of ship-building timber and minerals from its mountains. By the late 6th century BC, the settlement of the Thassians on the coasts from the River Strymonas in the west to the River Nestos in the east had been completed.

The foundation of Neapolis must not have been too distant in time from the first efforts of the Thassians to conquer it, in around the middle of the 7th century BC, even though the ancient sources do not offer us any information on the year in which the city was founded nor the name of its mother city. Nonetheless, the view has prevailed that Neapolis was a colony of Thassos, the most important argument being that it would not have been possible for the strategically and economically important position of the new city not to have been noticed by the Thassians. This view is also supported by the archaeological evidence and the ancient inscriptions.

The location of Neapolis meant that it soon became a great commercial port, while the riches that it gathered resulted in it achieving its autonomy from its mother city in the late 6th century BC. This is why during the clashes between the Thassians and the Athenians and also after the Thassians had been subjugated and lost their colonies, Neapolis, now independent from Thassos, was always at the side of the Athenians and flourished. In the Peloponnesian War too, when the Northeast Aegean was a theatre of intense fighting between Athens and Sparta, Neapolis remained faithful to the Athenians. In 377 BC, it became a member of the Second Athenian Empire.

Picture of Athena and Parthenos: photo archive of the Archaeological Museum of Kavala

In approximately the middle of the 4th century BC, Neapolis came under threat of losing its independence to the local Thracian leaders but also, above all, to the king of Macedon, Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. The city therefore turned to its powerful ally of Athens to help it face off the challenges.

In 355 BC, Neapolis sent two ambassadors to Athens – Demosthenes Theoxenus and Dioscurides Ameipsios – who were welcomed with the full honours that were due to consuls and benefactors. This event has come down to us thanks to an Athenian vote that was recorded on a stele, or column. The upper part of the stele is decorated with a valuable relief of the figure of the goddess Parthenos, the patron of Neapolis, clasping hands with the goddess Athena. This vote is today exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum, and there is also a copy of it in the Archaeological Museum of Kavala.

The 20 Athenian triremes that came to the aid of Neapolis and the struggle of its citizens were not enough to fend off the Macedonian king. After the city was conquered and Philippi founded, Neapolis was gradually reduced to the status of port of the powerful Macedonian city of Philippi.


Excursion to the Ancient Philippi

to the largest and majestic antique complex of Northern Greece, founded by King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great!

15 km from Kavala is the ancient city of Philippi, one of the most important historical sights of Greece. Here you can see the buildings of the ancient city, the ruins of the Roman city, Christian churches and the central Egnatiev road, the fragments of which can now be repeated the way of the Apostle Paul. This road divides the city into two parts.

In the north there is an agora - forum, in modern words an ancient shopping center with benches, galleries, thermae (Greek baths). Right in the center of the city was erected one of the very first basilicas of Philippi, the greatness of which can be judged by the remains of imposing walls covered with stucco molding. Another early Christian church, the Octagon, dedicated to the apostle Paul and dated to the 5th century, lies just to the south.

Nearby you can see the ruins, at the beginning of our era served as the walls of the prison of the apostle Paul. Partially preserved Roman theater, later rebuilt in the arena. The architecture of the acropolis (upper part of the city) is a mixture of Byzantine style, elements of Roman paganism and Christian cemetery basilicas. Here you can see "Bucefal's bowl", the legendary horse of Alexander the Great.

Excavations began in Philippi in 1914 of the French school of archeology, and after the Second World War, the Archaeological Service of Greece, in cooperation with the Athenian archaeological community, conducted systematic excavations here. Today, the Archaeological Service of Greece, in cooperation with the University of Aristotle in Thessaloniki and the French School of Archeology, continues archaeological research. Findings of the excavations are presented in the exposition of the Archaeological Museum in Philippi.

Right next to the Ancient City of Philippi there is a unique and monumental Baptistery of St. Lydia. This modern architectural monument is located exactly at the place where the Apostle Paul baptized the first Christian in Europe - Lydia, and it was performed here the first baptism in Europe. And next to the temple on the bank of the river there is an open baptistery in the shape of a cross like those that were preserved in the early Christian basilicas in Philippi.

Unlike many ancient monuments of Greece from which are preserved only the names and legends, in ancient Philippi there is something to see and the guide will take you to the distant past following you in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. So if you are on holidays in Kavala - you must visit ancient Philippi.

Information about excursion to the Ancient Philippi

&bull Excursion with a guide to the ancient city of Philippi and to the baptistery of Saint Lydia is carried out by car (1 - 4 people), minivan (up to 7 people), or mini bass (up to 18 people).
&bull The trip starts in the Kavala city (Hotel Oceanis) with a transfer to the archaeological site.
&bull Duration of the Excursion is 4 hours, total length 30 km. and begin at 10:00
&bull The excursion can be carried out only by prior request which should be submitted at least 1 week before the planned trip date

&bull The price of an individual excursion by car (1 - 4 people) is 140 &euro for all.
&bull The price in a group excursion is 35 &euro per person.
&bull For children from 6 to 12 years old - 20 &euro. For children under 5 years old - free of charge.
&bull The ticket to the archaeological area (6 &euro) and do not include in the price.

&bull You should have a passport as well as a camera and a great mood.
&bull We recommend that you wear light, casual clothing and comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes or sneakers, to have a hat and sunglasses.

All excursions

Photo gallery Philippi

LEARN MORE ABOUT PHILIPPI

HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPI

Settlement was founded by people from the island of Thassos in 360 BC. Very soon in 356 BC.to fight the local Thracian peoples besieging the city, the inhabitants turned to Philip II for help, who had recognized the privileged position of the city and decided to name it in honor of him. Through Philippi in the 1st century BC.passed the road of Egnatia, thanks to which the city occupied an important position in the region. In 42 AD. The Battle of Philippi on two low hills outside the western city walls has changed the course of history both locally and globally. The victory of Octavian and Antony, followers of Julius Caesar's policy, put an end to democracy, opening the way for Octavian to create an empire. Philippi became a Roman colony (Colony Augusta Julia Philippensis), which reached a special heyday in the 2nd century AD. In the 49-50's. AD The apostle Paul visited Philippi and founded the first Christian community in Europe. The memory of his stay and imprisonment was imprinted deeply in centuries, the city became a special Christian pilgrimage site. The size of the city declined in the early 7th century. This was caused by strong earthquakes and raids by the Slavs. The city continues to exist in Byzantine times as a fortified castle, due to its location on the main road artery between East and West. He was finally abandoned by the inhabitants with the arrival of the Ottomans conquerors at the end of the 14th century.

ANCIENT THEATER IN PHILIPPI

The theater is on the north-eastern slope of the acropolis. The foundation of the theater stands on the eastern wall of the city. During the time of Philip II (&IotaV century BC), the oldest building with common lines and orch with a diameter of 21.60 m was erected. After the Roman conquest, changes occur in accordance with the aesthetic requirements and favorite shows of the time. In the middle of III century there was a last change of theater in Philippi with the purpose of creation of the greater platform for carrying out gladiatorial fights, single combats and hunting. The theater is an invaluable cultural heritage of the area of ​​Eastern Macedonia. Today many of its elements are preserved. In the restored theater usually put the ancient theater productions, which can be seen in the framework of the Summer Festival in Philippi and Thassos.


Archaeological Site of Philippi: A Landmark of European Heritage

In 2016, one of the most important, and complete, archaeological sites in northern Greece, the ruins of the Ancient Walled City of Philippi, between the modern cities of Kavala, Mt. Paggaion, and Drama, made UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites and is now the 14th UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site in Greece.

Once the Thasian colony of Kinides, conquered in 356 BC and renamed Philippi by Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father, Philippi receives about 50,000 visitors a year.

Stavroula Dadaki, of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ephorate of Antiquities of Kavala, and director of the excavations, one of a contingent of Greek archaeologists and others involved with Philippi travelled to New York for the opening of the photographic exhibition, Philippi: A Landmark of European Heritage together with the curator of the exhibition, Michalis Lykounas, archaeologist with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Kavala.

Hosted by Consul General Dr. Konstantinos Koutras at the Consulate General of Greece in New York, the exhibition of wall-mounted plaques with explanatory texts, photographs, and maps showing the many focal points of Phillipi, opened on January 8. Appropriately, excellent Macedonian wines by Chateau Nico Lazaridis, Adriani Drama, and mezedes by Titan provided atmosphere.

With continued archaeological research and focused efforts by the Ministry of Culture with the assistance of European funding programs, Philippi will be recognized globally and attract more visitors within five years, said Stavroula Dadaki, followed by Michalis Lykounas, who spoke about the history of the site.

The city of Philippi in the region of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, was built in a strategic location which brought it to the forefront of major historical events. The Battle of Philippi, on the Plain of Philippi, where Cassius and Brutus were defeated, opened the way to Empire for Octavian, “a watershed not only for the history of Philippi but the entire Roman Empire.” The Via Egnatia, the great road joining East and West—built on an ancient route linking Europe and Asia—passed right through the city. important military and commercial road in antiquity for more than 2,000 years, the Via Egnatia played a key role in the history of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires.

Philippi played a decisive role in the expansion of Christianity. In 49/50 AD Paul the Apostle visited the city and baptized the first European Christian, Lydia, a porphyra dye merchant and others in the Zygaki River. From there, Christianity spread throughout Greece and the rest of Europe. To this day, said Lykounas, people travel to Philippi to be baptized in this river.

The archaeological remains of the city attest to its growth particularly during the Roman and early Christian period, and represent important stages in the history of architecture. Because the history and culture of the city are evidenced in their entirety, Philippi is one of the most astonishingly complete archaeological sites in northern Greece. The growth of the city over time, an administrative center, public space, religious buildings, remains of residences, workshops and cemeteries reflects the influences of Rome, and later, of Constantinople.

The Acropolis—The Rock Sanctuaries at the summit of the fortified hill above the city, the Theater, Basilicas A, B and C, the Forum, the Octagon complex, the Commercial Market, Urban Islets, the Walls, the city’s road network, and the Museum, whose collection encompasses a long period, from prehistoric times—when the first traces of habitation in the wider area of the ancient city appeared (traces of grapevines indicate that the first winemaking in Europe may have taken place here) until the late 14th century. Near the archaeological site is the important prehistoric settlement, Dikli Tash, where evidence suggest habitation from approximately 6200 BC with continuous use through the Byzantine period.

Lykounas praised supporters of the effort to bring the exhibition to the United States, saying, “This exhibition would not be here without the participation of a number of people who gave us ideas and created what you see. Our graphic designer Elsa Nikoletou worked through several nights to finish the designs before we printed them. But even the smallest effort cannot be realized if there is no money. We were very fortunate to have not only financial but also moral support from a very dynamic high-tech company, Raycap, in our region. Not only does our region have antiquities, but also a very strong future that enables us to attract investors.” It is hoped that the exhibition will travel to other cities in the US.

Lykounas expressly noted that the exhibition’s organizers offer individual tourist guides starting from the city of Kavala with the wish that all present at the exhibition would visit this year.


Via Egnatia - Walking with Paul from Neapolis to Apollonia

I've put together a video that will allow you to walk with Paul and Silas from Neapolis to Apollonia. HERE is the video in which I cover the following.

Acts 16.9-10 recounts Paul's vision while he was in Troas of the "man of Macedonia" asking him to come over to Macedonia. In Acts 16.11-12 it says:

What Paul and Silas did, actually, is follow the Via Egnatia (VE) from Neapolis (modern Kavala) to Philippi to Amphipolis to Apollonia. It was the most important west-east roadway in Greece from the 2nd century BCE to the 5th century CE, and even into modern times it has been used as a key travel route over. The VE figures prominently in much of history, especially in terms of troop movements such as occurred with the famous Battle of Philippi in 42 BCE where the forces of Octavius and Antony defeated those of Brutus and Cassius.


Visit Ancient Philippi, Macedonia

Philippi is one of the great cities of the ancient Greek world.

Philippi has had its share of fame. It was built along the ancient Roman trade route called the Via Egnatia, which stretched from Rome to Constantinople (Istanbul). Remains of this route can still be found in the northern Greek region of Macedonia.

Philippi also entertained great names of history like Mark Antony, Octavian, Brutus and Cassius as they faced off in the marshlands west of Ancient Philippi in the “Battle of Philippi”. This city was known as being the gateway to Europe and it is not surprising that Philippi played a large role in changing the direction of the Roman Republic.

Philippi is also interesting from a Christian perspective. Here you can follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul as Christianity was first spread to Europe through Philippi.

History of Philippi

Early history

The hills around Philippi contained a high concentration of gold and silver according to the Greek historian Strabo. The original settlement, Krenides (Crenides), was a colony of powerful Thassos, the island state to the south. Due to the abundance of fresh water springs in the area, it was named Krenides (many springs). Because of its location on the mainland, it was subject to Thracian raids and was constantly under threat.

In 356 BC, the colonists in Krenides, invited the powerful Macedonian king Philip II to help them in defending themselves from the northern invaders. The opportunity of gaining gold helped him to make his decision. Philip took control of the city, enlarged its size and fortifications and named it after himself – Philippi.

Philip then managed to increase the output of the local goldmines to produce 1000 talents a year. At 2011 values, Philips annual income would have been about 1.6 billion dollars. He quickly amassed a fortune that bought him an army, which eventually enabled his son Alexander the Great to conquer the world.

Philippi and the Romans

By 168 BC, the Roman machine was on the march. They conquered Macedonia and kept Philippi as one of its principal cities. A large part of Rome’s success was their great infrastructure. They built paved roads across the empire. Philippi was to benefit from this as the Via Egnatia came through the city in the 2nd century BC. This road opened up the east-west route from Asia Minor to Rome.

The Roman Empire took a turn as the Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC in Rome by two Senators, Brutus and Cassius. These two fled to raise an army in an attempt to conquer Rome. From the other side, Mark Antony raised an army and marched east. On October 23, 42 BC, the two Roman armies met on the plains just west of Philippi and clashed in what was to be known as the “Battle of Philippi”. The outcome of this battle marked the end of the Roman Republic.

Apostle Paul – “Step over into Macedonia”

About the year 50 AD, a new era was about to dawn on this city. Christianity had been spreading rapidly across the Middle East, down to Africa, and up through Asia Minor. One of Christianity’s foremost missionaries, the Apostle Paul, was in Troas (formerly Troy)– just across the water from Neapolis (present day Kavala). At night, Paul received a vision telling him to “step over into Macedonia and help us”.

Paul along with Luke and Silas got on a boat and made the trip, passing the island of Samothrace and then on to Neapolis. Taking the Via Egnatia, Paul and his companions travelled the 15 kilometers further to Philippi. It was Philippi that had the claim of being the first European city to hear the message of Christianity.
For more details -see Apostle Paul Macedonia Tour Route and Apostle Paul in Philippi.

What to see and do in Philippi

See more information and a map to do your own walking tour of Philippi.

How to Get to Philippi

Where to stay

If you are planning to stay in Sithonia, then look at the many recommendations for hotels and apartments that we offer on our site. From here it is possible to make a day trip with a car to Philippi and be back in Sithonia by the evening. Plan on 2.5 -3 hours drive each direction. If you don’t have a car, then you may have to stay overnight in Kavala.


Philippi of Macedonia

The city of Philippi in Macedonia was founded as Crenides by settlers from Thasos in about 360 BC, but only a few years after, Philip II of Macedonia conquered the city in about 356 BC and renamed it Philippi in honor of himself. The city was along the Via Egnatia, had its port at nearby Neapolis, many productive agricultural fields, and gold and gem mines were in the area, meaning that it was a strategic and wealthy city with access to many parts of the Roman Empire (Strabo, Geography Pliny, Natural History). After the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, which was instrumental in the downfall of the Republic and establishment of the Empire, Octavian (Augustus) founded the Roman “colony” of Philippi, where he settled former soldiers (Suetonius, Augustus). This battle occurred outside the city, to the west, with the forces of Octavian and Antony attacking the forces of Brutus and Cassius from the east, approaching the town. After the battle and establishment of the colony, the city still had its walls (2 miles in circumference) originally built by Philip of Macedon, and a theater from the Hellenistic period, which was expanded by the Romans in the 2 nd century AD. Philippi is mentioned by several Roman period authors, but the majority of the information is in relation to the civil war or its conquest by Philip. Luke specified that Philippi had “colony” status, and although many cities that Paul visited on his journeys were colonies, for some reason that fact is only noted for Philippi (Acts 16:12). Luke also described it as a city of the first (of the four) district of Macedonia, which is a fourfold division known from many ancient sources about Roman Macedonia and the location of Philippi (Acts 16:12 Hemer, The Book of Acts). Other major features of the city in the 1 st century included the Roman forum and the bema/judgement seat (between two fountains), the agora/marketplace (a section of the forum), baths, houses, workshops, the Via Egnatia highway, the eastern Neapolis Gate, western Krenides Gate, the decumanus maximum, an acropolis (tower on acropolis is 6 th century AD though), a palaestra (like a mini-gymnasium, covered now by Basilica B), a hero cult monument dedicated to the founder of the city, a temple to the Emperor (northeast corner of forum), a Serapeum (temple to Egyptian/Hellenistic gods, particularly Serapis), the Heroon (shrine) of Philip II, monumental statues of deified Julius and Augustus Caesar (see coin of Claudius), probably a temple to Apollo and Artemis/Diana (at the acropolis), an aqueduct, and many monumental Latin inscriptions (about 85% are Latin) as a result of its Roman colony status. This city, occupying about 167 acres/68 hectares, probably had a population of at least 15,000 people. Inscriptions with the name of the city from the Roman period are visible on the library and eastern temple.

In about 49 AD, after Paul and Silas had arrived in Philippi from Neapolis, they went down to the river (probably just outside the eastern gate of the city at the nearby stream near the ancient church, or alternatively outside the western gate at the Krenides river/stream, but unlikely to be the farther site about 1.5 miles west of the city at the Gangites river) on the Sabbath and found a group of people assembled for prayer. Excavations discovered a burial inscription from the 2nd century AD that mentioned a synagogue in Philippi, but apparently there was no synagogue at Philippi during the 1 st century, and the community of Jews may have been extremely small (Bakirtzis and Koester, Philippi). The Mishnah recommended that Jews live where the Torah was studied and at least 10 households were established, suggesting that the population of Jews in Philippi may have been too small to support an actual synagogue (Mishnah, Sayings of the Fathers and Sanhedrin). Therefore, the most logical place to find worshippers of God was in an assembly next to flowing water, which was related to the purity laws and the norm for communities lacking a synagogue (Philo, Flaccus). There, Paul, Silas, and Luke met Lydia, a woman from the city of Thyatira in Asia Province who had relocated to Philippi where she had a business dyeing and selling purple fabrics (Acts 16:14). The dyeing of fabrics with a red-purple dye made from the madder root was a major part of the economy in the area of Thyatira, and bringing this industry to Macedonia was probably a lucrative business decision. Although in previous centuries a relocation from Asia minor to Macedonia would have been extremely difficult, the new Empire allowed freedom of movement and excellent opportunities for commerce. Evidence for a relocation from Thyatira and starting a purple dye business, like Lydia, was discovered on a Roman period inscription in Philippi that translates “the city honored from among the purple dyers, an outstanding citizen, Antiochus the son of Lykus, a native of Thyatira…” (CIL 3.664.1 cf. also 2 nd century AD Thessaloniki stele of Thyatira purple dealer in Macedonia). Although we do not know if this Antiochus had any relation or business association with Lydia, it does demonstrate the accuracy of the historical setting of the Acts narrative in Philippi. It was uncommon, but not rare, for women to own and run businesses in the Roman Empire, and evidence of a woman owner of a purple dye business is even found on an inscription (Keener, Acts CIG 2519). However, it is also possible that Lydia co-owned the business with her husband, who is alluded to but not specifically named in the Acts narrative. It is speculative, but within the realm of possibility that the Antiochus mentioned in the inscription was the husband of Lydia. The message of Jesus Christ taught at the prayer meeting was accepted by Lydia, who is described as a worshipper of God or God fearer, and Lydia and her household became believers and were baptized (Acts 16:14-15). The name “Lydia” is absent from the epistle to the Philippians, which led a few scholars to theorize the possibility that Lydia, from Thyatira in the Lydia region, was merely a designation for a Lydian woman rather than her actual name (Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller). It was suggested that her actual name may have been Eudoia or Syntyche, but this seems unlikely due to the widespread use of personal names in Luke-Acts rather than regional “nicknames” (Philippians 4:2). The Byzantine period Basilica of Paul (Octagonal Church, not Basilica A/B/C), identified by a mosaic inscription on the pavement and dated to 343 AD or earlier, may have been to mark the location of the riverside prayer meeting, or the church that originally met in the house of Lydia (Porphyrios Acts 16:40).

After presenting the Gospel to people in Philippi, Paul and Silas faced opposition from a demon through the “Philippian slave girl” who had a “spirit of divination” or python spirit which was attempting to bring unwanted attention and problems to the Christians as they preached and taught (Acts 16:16-18). In ancient Greek mythology, Python or Phython was a pagan snake/dragon god who guarded the “navel of the world” at Delphi to the south, but Apollo defeated him and took over the area (Ovid, Metamorphoses). Delphi was a center for the oracle in the temple of Apollo, and the priestess was called a “Pythia,” so the term python had come to be used of the persons through whom a spirit of divination or soothsaying spoke. At Delphi, the priest interpreter would listen to the toxic fume induced babble of the Pythia High Priestess and make up an oracle out of it (Plutarch Valerius Maximus). In the pagan Hellenistic culture, “diviners” or soothsayers were quite common, and even closer to Philippi than Delphi there was a lesser oracle of Dionysus at nearby Mount Pangaeus (Herodotus). The people of Philippi associated the idea of Python (a god) and the oracles with her, and her fortune telling had been bringing her masters great financial gain according to Luke and comparisons to known fees for oracles in ancient Greece. The setup and process at Delphi and Pangaeus were different than the fortune telling seer slave-girl in Philippi, but both were related to demonic activity. Throughout Acts, magic and demonic activity are shown as something in opposition to the Gospel, but conquered time after time by the power of the one true God (cf. Simon the Magician in Acts 8, Bar-Jesus in Acts 13, the magic spells in Ephesus in Acts 19, etc.). After many days of her annoying shouting and following, Paul finally cast out the demon in the name of Jesus Christ, but this angered her masters who had just lost their money making “fortune teller,” for which they accused Paul and Silas of unlawful activity, leading to a public beating and imprisonment (Acts 16:18-21).

The forum, measuring 230 by 485 feet, was probably the location in Philippi where Paul and Silas were dragged before the Roman praetors (2 duumviri specifically, according to information from inscriptions at Philippi), and then illegally beaten (Acts 16:19-22 1 Thessalonians 2:2 2 Corinthians 11:25 Suetonius, Titus). On the northern end of the forum was the bema/judgement seat, which was the likely place that the Roman officials stood or sat as they listened to the accusations and then ordered Paul and Silas to be beaten with rods (carried out by lictors, probably 6 of them). These city magistrates held the position of duumvir, according to inscriptions found at Philippi, with the Latin title translated into the typical Greek usage by Luke (Acts 16:20, 22, 38 strategos translated from “duumvir” or the title “praetor” Hemer, The Book of Acts Keener, Acts). The two were then briefly put in prison, secured in stocks in the dark and poorly ventilated inner prison, which would normally have been reserved for the most serious crimes. Although there is a traditional location of the “prison,” this site was a Roman period water cistern rather than a prison house with foundations and doors as described in Acts, and there is little evidence for it beyond a 5th century tradition (Acts 16:23-26 McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament). Roman prisons were usually built near the forum of a city, so it was probably nearby, but the exact location of this prison is still a mystery (Vitruvius, On Architecture). Then, a great miracle happened that night when an earthquake shook the prison, the bonds were unfastened, and the doors opened. The jailer, being responsible for guarding the prisoners, thought that he had failed in his duty and was about to commit suicide rather than face the dishonor and execution that would come as a result of his prisoners escaping (Petronius, Satyricon Livy Urbe Condita cf. Acts 12:19). Fortunately, Paul prevented this fatal mistake by notifying the jailer that all prisoners were present. Then, the jailer asked the important question “what must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas answered “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).

The earthquake may have been viewed as Divine retribution, or perhaps the magistrates thought the beating and night in jail was enough, or Lydia and others may have made a formal complaint. Nevertheless, the next day, the magistrates told the jailer that the two men could be released. However, Roman law had not been observed. Paul and Silas had been beaten with rods and thrown in jail without a trial, and Paul notified the authorities of their unlawful activities toward them as Roman citizens, which held great benefits and privileges in the Empire (16:37-39). Further, abuse of Roman citizens by the authorities could result in their expulsion from office and disqualification from ever serving again (Cicero, Against Verres). In some cases, extreme mistreatment of Roman citizens could carry harsh punishments for officials (Livy, History of Rome). Over the years, Paul often benefited from the great privileges of Roman citizenship, but he knew that heavenly citizenship was the most important. The Roman citizenship status of the residents of Philippi seems to have been an important issue, as it is not only emphasized in the narrative of Acts, but in theological illustrations used by Paul in the letter to the Philippians, where Paul points out how they must recognize that their true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 1:27, 3:20 “to be a citizen” used in both verses). Paul also used the metaphor of “soldiers” in the army of God in this letter, which would have resonated with many of the citizens of Philippi who were former soldiers in the army of Rome (Philippians 2:25). Philippians, known as one of the “prison epistles” of Paul, was written while he was under house arrest in Rome around 61-62 AD, awaiting trial before the Emperor Nero (Philippians 1:13, 4:22). In this epistle, Paul mentions a Clement, who may have been the later bishop of Rome known from church history and his own letters (Philippians 4:3). The ministry of Paul in Rome, even while imprisoned, was so effective that many of the people in the service of the Emperor became Christians (“Praetorian guard” “brethren in the household of Caesar”). According to coins found at Philippi, some former members of the famous Praetorian Guard had settled in the colony around the time of Paul, so the people would have been familiar with the Praetorians and may have even known some of those still in the service of the Emperor (Franz, “Gods, Gold, and the Glory of Philippi”). Epaphroditus, who is mentioned twice in the letter, was probably a leader in the Philippian church, as well as a friend of Paul who was described as a “fellow soldier,” and the deliverer of the epistle (Philippians 2:25, 4:18). Several years later, when he was back in Macedonia, Paul may have written to Timothy in Ephesus while Paul was briefly in Philippi (1 Timothy 1:3 Acts 20:1-6).

Begged to leave the city by the magistrates, lest more problems arise, Paul and Silas made a stop at the home of Lydia to greet the other Christians, then took the Via Egnatia westward, passing through an arch on the road just east of the Gangites river. Paul and Silas then went on to Thessaloniki by way of Amphipolis and Apollonia (Acts 17:1). However, Paul returned to Philippi at least once more and later wrote a letter to the church there, which consisted of a group of Christians very dear to him (Acts 20:6 cf. 1 Corinthians 16:5-6 and 2 Corinthians 2:13 Philippians). During the Byzantine period, several attacks on the city by numerous foes, plus a massive earthquake in about 620, weakened Philippi, which later became merely an outpost and then was eventually abandoned around the 14 th century.

A few scholars have suggested that based on Church history, ancient manuscript additions, and the New Testament, that Luke the physician was from Antioch but had some connection with Philippi, perhaps functioning as a leader of the church there for some time (Anti-Marcionite Prologue Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History Jerome, Lives Codex Bezae references to Antioch in Acts e.g. “Luke, who was by race an Antiochian and a physician by profession, was long a companion of Paul, and had careful conversation with the other Apostles, and in two books left us examples of the medicine for the souls which he had gained from them” -Eusebius). The first “we” passage occurs at Troas, just before the group takes the short journey to Philippi by way of Neapolis in 49 AD, but Luke stays in Macedonia rather than going on to Berea and Athens, then later in about 58 AD the narrative specifies that Luke rejoined them by sailing from Philippi (Acts 16:9-11, 17:1, 20:6). After the death of Paul, it seems that Luke returned to Macedonia and Achaia, but eventually died in Boeotia, which is a region in between the Philippi/Thessaloniki and Athens/Corinth areas, part of which belonged to the Province of Macedonia, at the age of 84 (Anti-Marcionite Prologue).

Dr. Titus Kennedy is a field archaeologist working primarily with sites and materials related to the Bible. He works with ColdWater Media and Drive Thru History® to maintain historical accuracy throughout their scripts and locations.


Paul arrives in Philippi

Acts 16:12 From the port of Neapolis, Paul, Silas and Luke travel inland along the Via Egnatia to Philippi (see 4 on Map 24 ).

Philippi is an old Greek city that was conquered by Philip of Macedon in 300BC and was re-founded over two hundred years later as a Roman &lsquocolonia&rsquo by retired Roman soldiers and their families (see Map 24 ). Philippi was an important gold-mining centre, and gold coins were minted there. It was a busy commercial settlement on the Via Egnatia (the &lsquoEgnatian Way&rsquo) &ndash an important routeway leading west along the coast and, eventually, across the Adriatic Sea to Rome.

The Via Egnatia at Philippi (Acts 16:12)

Today, visitors can still walk along the original route of the stone-paved Via Egnatia, and sit in the Roman amphitheatre &ndash originally built by Philip II in the 4 th century BC &ndash or stroll across the Roman forum with its many shops, temples and public buildings.

The site traditionally identified as Paul&rsquos prison was actually a cistern for storing water during the 1 st century, but it was later transformed into a small church whose walls were covered in paintings of Paul&rsquos arrest, his miraculous liberation and the baptism of his jailor&rsquos family.

Paul's prison at Philippi (Acts 16:23)

The extensive remains of a number of 5 th and 6 th century early Christian churches have been joined recently by a new church &ndash Lydia&rsquos Church &ndash built beside the River Zygaktis where it&rsquos believed that Paul and Silas met with the early believers and Lydia was baptised.

Lydia's Church at Philippi (Acts 16:13)

Paul in Philippi

Acts 16:13-15 As there are few Jews and no synagogue in Philippi, Paul and his companions go to the riverbank just outside the city on the Sabbath day, and begin to speak to the women gathered there. One of them, Lydia &ndash from Thyatira in the Roman province of Asia (see Map 24 ) &ndash is a wealthy dealer in expensive purple cloth (which only the most important Roman citizens were allowed to wear).

The expensive purple dye was made from thousands of tiny murex shellfish. Thyatira was well known for its dyeing and garment making, and Lydia may have been an overseas agent for a Thyatiran manufacturer (see the feature on Thyatira in Section 20).

Lydia (who is probably a wealthy widow who has inherited her husband&rsquos business) and all her household become believers. They are baptised, and her large town house (or &lsquovilla&rsquo) becomes Paul&rsquos headquarters in Philippi.

Acts 16:16-40 Each day in Philippi, while crossing the central agora (the Roman market place fringed with pagan temples), Paul is pestered by a slave girl who makes her owners rich by fortune-telling. An evil spirit in her keeps shouting and drawing attention to Paul and his companions. Exasperated by this, Paul casts the evil spirit out of the girl &ndash to the fury of her owners who see their profits disappear.

Shops lining the Roman agora at Philippi (Acts 16:19)

Paul and Silas are dragged before the Roman magistrates to explain their actions, but their voices are drowned by the chanting of the crowds. The magistrates order them to be stripped and flogged, after which they are flung into prison and locked in the &lsquoinner cell&rsquo (probably an underground dungeon) until the magistrates meet the following morning.

Around midnight, however, Paul and Silas are set free by a violent earthquake. The jailer (and all his family) become believers and are baptised. In the morning, the magistrates send for the prisoners, but Paul and Silas insist that the magistrates come and apologise to them personally, because they have broken the Roman law by flogging and imprisoning Roman citizens without first giving them a fair trial.

Text, maps & photos (unless otherwise stated) by Chris & Jenifer Taylor © 2021. This website uses cookies to monitor usage (see Privacy Statement in drop-down box under 'Contact Us'). Using the website implies your agreement to the use of cookies.


Paul arrives in Philippi

Acts 16:12 From the port of Neapolis, Paul, Silas and Luke travel inland along the Via Egnatia to Philippi (see 4 on Map 24 ).

Philippi is an old Greek city that was conquered by Philip of Macedon in 300BC and was re-founded over two hundred years later as a Roman &lsquocolonia&rsquo by retired Roman soldiers and their families (see Map 24 ). Philippi was an important gold-mining centre, and gold coins were minted there. It was a busy commercial settlement on the Via Egnatia (the &lsquoEgnatian Way&rsquo) &ndash an important routeway leading west along the coast and, eventually, across the Adriatic Sea to Rome.

The Via Egnatia at Philippi (Acts 16:12)

Today, visitors can still walk along the original route of the stone-paved Via Egnatia, and sit in the Roman amphitheatre &ndash originally built by Philip II in the 4 th century BC &ndash or stroll across the Roman forum with its many shops, temples and public buildings.

The site traditionally identified as Paul&rsquos prison was actually a cistern for storing water during the 1 st century, but it was later transformed into a small church whose walls were covered in paintings of Paul&rsquos arrest, his miraculous liberation and the baptism of his jailor&rsquos family.

Paul's prison at Philippi (Acts 16:23)

The extensive remains of a number of 5 th and 6 th century early Christian churches have been joined recently by a new church &ndash Lydia&rsquos Church &ndash built beside the River Zygaktis where it&rsquos believed that Paul and Silas met with the early believers and Lydia was baptised.

Lydia's Church at Philippi (Acts 16:13)

Paul in Philippi

Acts 16:13-15 As there are few Jews and no synagogue in Philippi, Paul and his companions go to the riverbank just outside the city on the Sabbath day, and begin to speak to the women gathered there. One of them, Lydia &ndash from Thyatira in the Roman province of Asia (see Map 24 ) &ndash is a wealthy dealer in expensive purple cloth (which only the most important Roman citizens were allowed to wear).

The expensive purple dye was made from thousands of tiny murex shellfish. Thyatira was well known for its dyeing and garment making, and Lydia may have been an overseas agent for a Thyatiran manufacturer (see the feature on Thyatira in Section 20).

Lydia (who is probably a wealthy widow who has inherited her husband&rsquos business) and all her household become believers. They are baptised, and her large town house (or &lsquovilla&rsquo) becomes Paul&rsquos headquarters in Philippi.

Acts 16:16-40 Each day in Philippi, while crossing the central agora (the Roman market place fringed with pagan temples), Paul is pestered by a slave girl who makes her owners rich by fortune-telling. An evil spirit in her keeps shouting and drawing attention to Paul and his companions. Exasperated by this, Paul casts the evil spirit out of the girl &ndash to the fury of her owners who see their profits disappear.

Shops lining the Roman agora at Philippi (Acts 16:19)

Paul and Silas are dragged before the Roman magistrates to explain their actions, but their voices are drowned by the chanting of the crowds. The magistrates order them to be stripped and flogged, after which they are flung into prison and locked in the &lsquoinner cell&rsquo (probably an underground dungeon) until the magistrates meet the following morning.

Around midnight, however, Paul and Silas are set free by a violent earthquake. The jailer (and all his family) become believers and are baptised. In the morning, the magistrates send for the prisoners, but Paul and Silas insist that the magistrates come and apologise to them personally, because they have broken the Roman law by flogging and imprisoning Roman citizens without first giving them a fair trial.

Text, maps & photos (unless otherwise stated) by Chris & Jenifer Taylor © 2021. This website uses cookies to monitor usage (see Privacy Statement in drop-down box under 'Contact Us'). Using the website implies your agreement to the use of cookies.


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