Ancient Edessa


Ancient Edessa was an important city of Macedonia, built on the natural passage linking upper, mountainous, with lower, lowland, Macedonia.

The city is spread over two levels: The Acropolis stood on the cliff of modern Edessa, while the lower city at the foot of the rock, on a plain named “Longos”. The urban organization was completed in the 4th century B.C., as mentioned in some inscriptions. Various events of the wars between the successors of Alexander the Great were performed in its territory.

From Edessa descended Chrysogonos, general of King Philip V (220-179 B.C.). Son of the latter was Samos, a well-known Macedonian epigrammatist. During Roman times, the city enjoys the benefits of the Pax Romana. Struck coins, the obverse of which depicts the busts of emperors and at the back the seated goddess Rome, crowned by the city of Edessa.

It is known, mainly from inscriptions, that the city had a parliament, gymnasium, theater and temples for the worship of Zeus “Hipsistos”, Dionysus, Artemis, the Mother of God and Ma. From the temple of Ma survive architectural members, which bear inscriptions for liberated slaves.

During the second half of the 3rd century A.D., due to barbarian invasions, extensive repairs of the wall took place. During the Early Christian period, Edessa still referred to as “civitas” in various itineraria and also in Synekdemos of Hierocles. In 479 AD the city served as base for the Byzantine troops during the military operations against the Goths. The raids of Avaroslavs in the next century, combined with a series of natural disasters, must have been the reason for the gradual abandonment of Lower City, the limitation of settlement in the area of the old Acropolis and its’ conversion, during the middle Byzantine years, to the castle of Vodena.