Monday, April 04, 2011

From Thessaloniki to Philippi and Kavala

The Lion of Amphipolis
It was about a three hour drive from Thessaloniki to Philippi. Throughout the journey we were traveling along a modern highway that runs parallel to the ancient Via Egnatia, and there are points where the original stones of that ancient road can be seen.   About half way, we stopped in Amphipolis to stretch our legs and view the beautiful Amphipolis Lion that was crafted during the reign of Phillip II (Alexander the Great’s father) to honor an Admiral, Laomedan, who had served under him.  

The Gaggitas River near which the "place of prayer" is located
Our first “Philippi” stop was a location tradition holds was the “place of prayer” where Paul first met the woman Lydia of Thyatira (see Acts 16: 11 ff) and where she and her household may have been baptized.  A lovely outdoor chapel sits by the side of the River Gaggitas and we held a Eucharist and renewed our own baptismal promises.
Eucharist at Lydia's Place of Prayer

Following this, we visited the shrine to Lydia which is adjacent to the site. 
Icon of Lydia in Lydia's shrine

The ruins of the ancient city of Philippi
From there, it was on to the archaeological site of Philippi itself.  According to Otto F.A. Meinardus, Philippi was “a Roman garrison town and the chief city of the province of Macedonia” (St. Paul in Greece Athens:  Lyccabettus Press, 1972, p. 9) In Philippi the imperial forces of Octavius and Antony defeated the republican forces of Brutus and Cassius leading each of these latter two to commit suicide.   The ruins provide clear evidence of a once lively place with a forum standing out, a theater and baths.  There are also ruins of two basilicas built well after Paul. 
Paul's jail cell in Philippi

Perhaps most interesting is a site marked as a place where Paul was imprisoned in Philippi, and which resulted in the conversion of his jailer (See Acts 16:16-34).
After our extensive exploration of Philippi, we boarded the coach and took the short ride to the seaside town of Kavala where we split up and ate lunch at two lovely outdoor seafood restaurants.  A short time to explore afterwards, then it was off to our nearby hotel where we had a chance to rest before dinner and a reasonably early night.

1 comment:

Bessie said...

Your blogs are a highlight in my days of "sitting recovery". The icon of Lydia must be quite something in person - also, Philippi - and Paul's jail cell. Love to you all. Bessie