Dion was an ancient town of strategic importance and one of the most famous Macedonian city-states. The first written reference to Dion was one of Thucydides. The town seems to have been founded by the Perreveis of Thessaly, to honor Zeus (according to historian Dimitsas). The name of the city is an attribute to Zeus (Dias). Every year the festivities of “Dia” took place around the temple of the father of gods. In Dion also took place Olympic Games and Victorial festivities and rites of sacrifice. The locals were named after Zeus (Dias) as Dioi. The first month of the Macedonian calendar was named Dios. Dion is also related to Orfeus as tradition refers that the latter was killed by women of Dion and a tomb was built in the site to his memory.
The ruins of the city are found in a 4 km distance from the sea. The archaeological excavations in the area began in 1928 and in 1973 were continued under the supervision of professor Dimitrios Pantermalis. Archaeologists brought the Temple of Isis to light as well as of other Egyptian Gods, the small temple of Afrodite, the most ancient temple of Dimitra (Dimiter), a Hellenistic theatre of the time of Philip the Fifth, a roman theatre of the 2nd century, a stadium, the mansion of god Dionysos with the magnificent mosaics, a cemetery, commercial stores, stone pillars, a conservatory, surrounding walls, musical instruments and thermal baths (spa). The choice of the site to build the temple of Zeus was dictated by divine signs. These were the crystal waters that spring from the mountain and perennial trees which are often struck by lightning during the summer months. According to tradition, Deykalion, king of Thessaly had erected an altar to honor Zeus in Dion and for this reason the Macedonians rendered the city into a religious center.
The Museum of Dion was inaugurated in 1983 and exhibits findings not only from Dion and Olympus but also other ancient settlements of Pieria such as Pydna and Ritini. It has three floors divided into units depending on where findings were excavated. The exhibition includes statues, and burial monuments, architectural parts, coins and other objects, which were discovered in the temples, in the big thermal springs and the necropolis (city of the dead) of Dion as well as everyday objects of Dion life.
Livithra is a town near Olympus where according to mythology was the burial place of Orfeus by the Muses. It was the favourite place of the Muses hence the ancient name of the Muses in ancient greek, Livithrides. According to mythology, the Muses collected the pieces of the corpse of Orfeus and they buried them in Livithra, under mount Olympus, where birds sang on its grave. This reference was made by Pausanias, Stravonas, Apollo Radio and other historians.
The ancient wanderer Pausanias mentions that Livithra was destroyed by a flooded river. An oracle said that the city would be killed by a wild pig, when the sun would see the bones of Orfeus that were placed in a water vessel on a pillar. The citizens of Livithra didn’t pay attention to the oracle believing they couldn’t be in danger by such an animal and neglected his grave. When shepherds accidentally dropped the pillar and the vessel opened, the god sent a fierce storm to the area. Then the river Sys (which in ancient Greek means wild pig) flooded and destroyed the city, drowning its people and animals.
In Livithra there were springs and monuments dedicated to Orfeus and the worship of Nymphs. The ancient city has been located on mount Olympus on the location Valtos of Leptokarya. On the site a cemetery has also been found which dates back to the Time of Copper. On the site there is also an ancient cobbled street, the city, the acropolis and the cemetery with the burial site of mythical Orfeus.
Archaeologists had shown interest in the hills around Vergina ever since 1850, as they suspected that burial monuments lay underneath. Excavation began in 1861 under the supervision of French archaeologist Leon Hauzey, who had the support of emperor Napoleon III. It revealed parts of a big building, in the site Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) that is considered by many to have been a summer palace. Nevertheless excavation came to a halt due to a malaria epidemic. In 1937, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki by initiative of Professor K.Romaios, decided to start a University excavation in Vergina for the training of the students. Mr. Romaios excavated more parts of the palace and a Macedonian tomb, that the excavator named after professor Romaios “ The tomb of Romeo” but the procedure paused once again due to the outbreak of the Greek-Italian War in 1940. After the war, excavation resumed during the period 1950-1960 and the rest of the “palace” emerged. Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos was convinced that a hill called “ The Big Toumba” hid the graves of Macedonian Kings. In 1977 Andronikos began an excavation of 6 weeks in the Toumba and discovered four burial rooms which had not been traced by tomb raiders. Three more were found in 1980. Excavation continued during the period 1980-1990. Andronikos claimed that the finds were the burial sites of Macedonian Kings including Philip II , father of Alexander the Great, one of his wives and the son of Alexander the Great, Alexander IV, the Macedonian. His claim has been confirmed by many archaeologists and the Greek government. However, there are archaeologists who doubt the above claim and say that the tomb is the grave of Philip III, half brother of Alexander the Great and many others who believe that the tombs are not royal but belong to great Macedonian generals who gained a large amount of wealth due to the conquering campaign of Alexander the Great in Asia. In case the tomb belongs to Philip III, the weaponry and armor found inside the tomb belong to Alexander the Great since Philip III had his weaponry delivered back to Macedonia after his brother died.
On the golden Larnax in which Andronikos identified the remains of Philip II, there is a carving of the Vergina Sun, which has been adopted as a symbol of Greek Macedonia. A large number of artifacts came to light, many made of gold, including the Larnaka with the ashes of Philip II and his gold crown of oak tree. The finds are exhibited ever since the year 2000 in the Museum of the site, which is built inside the hill. In 1996 UNESCO announced the incorporation of the archeological site of Aiges, in the list of world heritage monuments. The most important sites one can visit are: the Royal Tombs, the palace, the theatre, the cemetery, the sanctuary of Eykleia, the Acropolis and the walls of the city.