Vergina, a village located in the Prefecture of Imathia, about 80 km south-west of Thessaloniki, is identified with the ancient town of Aigai, the first capital of ancient Macedonia. Today one can visit the ancient royal palace and the theatre of the town, as well as the Great Tumulus with the royal tombs, one of which is claimed to be the tomb of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. The tumulus is incorporated in the archaeological museum of Vergina, which was built in a way to protect the tombs, exhibit the artifacts and show the tumulus as it was before the excavations. Among the finds exhibited are golden, silver and ivory objects, utensils and armory. One can also see the impressing facades of the so-called Macedonian Tombs, decorated with wall paintings.
About an hour (85 km) to the SW of Thessaloniki, in the Prefecture of Pieria, you can find the ancient town of Dion, at the foot of Mt.Olympus. Dion provides an impressive archaeological site in a landscape of extraordinaire beauty. It is the town where Zeus (Δίας) was honored, from whom it became its name. There was a large temple dedicated to him, as well as temples dedicated to other deities, as Demeter, Asklepios and Isis. Apart from the temples one can see the walls of the city, a Hellenistic and a roman theatre, the odeion, the public baths, workshops, houses of rich citizens with mosaic floors and two early Christian basilicas. You can also visit the Archaeological Museum , one of the best in Northern Greece , with hundreds of exhibits, among which the famous hydraulis, a unique musical instrument, the ancestor of the modern church organ.
Pella, an ancient city located in the homonymous Prefecture, less than an hour to the west of Thessaloniki (about 40 km), was founded by the Macedonian king Archelaus as the capital of his kingdom, replacing the older palace-city of Aigai (Vergina). It was the seat of the king Philip II and Alexander the Great. Archaeological excavations have uncovered a small part of the city that was designed on the famous “hippodamean” plan, which forms a grid of eight rows of rectangular blocks. One can see today the walls, the palace, the large agora (market) surrounded by porticos in all four sides, temples dedicated to Aphrodite, Cybele and Darron, private houses, the thesmophoreion and the cemetery. Pella is famous for its mosaic floors, e.g. the Lion Hunt Mosaic, most of which are exhibited in the brand new Archaeological Museum .
Amphipolis, an ancient city in the Serres Prefecture , is situated about 98 km to the east of Thessaloniki . It was founded in 437 BC by the Athenians on a raised plateau overlooking the east bank of Strymon River . Excavations have uncovered remains at the site dating to approximately 3000 BC. Due to its strategic location the city was fortified very early. In 357 BC Philip II conquered the town, which became an important naval base during the reign of Alexander. Today the visitor of the site can see part of the fortification of the city, the gymnasium, private houses and early Christian basilicas. However, the most famous monument of the region is the “Amphipolis Lion”, a marble and probably funerary monument of the 4th century BC. Amphipolis has also a very interesting Archaeological Museum , which contains many items related to the history and civilisation of the site, dating from prehistoric times down to the Byzantine period.