Amphipolis was an ancient city built in eastern Macedonia, on the banks of the river Strymonas, on the area of a city formerly called Ennea Odoi. Today in this area is the settlement of Amfipoli. Despite its small size, the settlement has a long history and several attractions, including the Archaeological Museum of Amphipolis.
Amphipolis was built at a height of 154 m. on a natural fortified hill, one of these close to Mount Pangeo. The view around is magnificent. In the background things that stand out are the sea , the slender outline of Thassos and the conical size of Mount Agios Oros. The plain stretches to the north of Serres, surrounded by mountains in the background, in the east the imposing volume of Mount Pangeo with the snow-covered slopes of Kerdyllia. Big part of the hill, where the city was built, the “gutter of the pure Strymona river”.
This entire area evokes endless memories from antiquity. Ancient Amphipolis today, is a place that residents of the city of Serres and other regions of Greece can visit.
The Museum of Amphipolis is located 65 kilometers away from the city of Serres.
It belongs to the territorial jurisdiction of the Municipality of Amphipolis and is built on the ruins
of ancient Amphipolis. The greatness and magnificence of the space is such that
awe and ecstasy overwhelms every visitor. The Museum is not big, it is nevertheless
one of the most important in the country.
The Amphipolis Museum houses monuments of the history and culture of Amphipolis
Ancient and Christian times. In their exhibition spaces, the cultural history of Amphipolis
is summed up, from Prehistoric to Late Byzantine Times.
Housing is provided in its warehouses and maintenance is carried out in workshops
as well as the study of the findings that the archaeological excavations bring to light.
The Museum includes spacious rooms with appropriate lighting, in which the
exhibition was curated based on both scientific and aesthetic criteria.
The first who tried to colonize the area were the Athenians in the 5th century BC, due to the direct access to important raw materials, such as the gold and silver of mount Pangaio and the dense forests of the area. The first attempt, in 465 BC, failed. Thracian peltasts crushed the hoplite phalanx of 2,500-3,000 Athenian settlers of the city of the Nine Roads at Draviskos area, who were advancing into the Thracian hinterland with the aim of capturing its lucrative gold mines. Athens recovered financially during the age of Pericles, in 437 BC, thanks to foundation of Amphipolis. According to Thucydides the city was named because the river Strymonas flows around the city surrounding it, but there are other theories about the names’ origin. Amphipolis became the main base of the Athenians in Thrace and a target for the Spartans.
During the Peloponnesian war, the Spartans captured the city. To save the city, an expedition was sent by the Athenians under the leadership of Thucydides (the later historian). The mission failed, which led Thucydides into exile. Then Cleon was sent, who was killed during the battle of Amphipolis, a fierce conflict in which the Spartan general Brasidas was also killed. With the Peace of Nicaea (or Nicaea peace), Sparta committed to return Amphipolis to Athens, which did not happen. This became a point of new friction and one of the issues that caused the peace to be violated and the Peloponnesian War to start again. The Athenians were unable to recapture the city, despite several attempts over the following years. The last attempt of the Athenians was in 358 BC, which did not have a happy outcome for them, and a year later the city was captured by Philip II of Macedon and became part of the Macedonian Kingdom. Philip II made sure to transfer numerous of his subjects there to change the composition of the population in his favor.
The name of ancient Amphipolis is linked to the names of many great kings, generals, admirals, historians and politicians. Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Brasidas, Cleon, Thucydides, Timotheus, Nearchus and many others are related to the city.
During the period of Alexander the Great, Amphipolis and its port in the Aegean had developed into a very important naval base of the Macedonians, and the birthplace of three important admirals, Nearchus, Hadrosthenes and Laodemont. Alexander the Great’s fleet left that port to travel to for Asia.
Some of the ancient cities that marked a remarkable action in ancient history, despite all the calamities, managed to preserve some monuments in their place. Today’s visitors can spend many hours reminiscing about the great moments that each place experienced, just by looking at these monuments. However, not all places were so lucky.
In most cases, only the ancient name, sometimes corrupted, remains the only testimony of great events and intense moments of a distant era. Last, but not least, there are the most unfortunate ones. Where even the toponym wasn’t preserved and everything has been faded by oblivion, under the soil, which densely and heavily covered every trace of life. Thus, only finding by accident can direct the attention of people to care about what took place in some places many centuries ago in an effort to bring us closer to life in the past and its deeper essence.
During the Hellenistic era, settlers from the big city founded, after the instigation of Seleucus, a city named after him on the banks of the Euphrates, on the ancient Aramaic Thapsakos.
In Kormista there is Virgin Mary Eikosifoinissa Holy Convent with 25 nuns, which was founded by Agios Germanos, in the second half of the 9th or the beginning of the 10th century.
Northern of the Agista village is the early Christian church of the Saint John the Forerunner, which is one of the oldest in the prefecture.
On October 17 1941, 230 inhabitants of the villages of Ano Kerdylia and Kato Kerdylia were executed by the forces of the German occupation. Commemorative events are held every anniversary of the Kerdylia Massacre on October 17 of each year.
In 1912-13, Greek soldiers found the base and a few pieces of the now well-known Lion of Amphipolis.
Several other pieces were unearthed in 1930 – 31 in the same area, during excavations to settle the bed of the Strymons. During 1961, English soldiers, who were camping there, found several pieces of the statue as well.
The study of French and American scientists and technicians led to the restoration of Lion of Amphipolis in 1936-37. There are many versions of the reasons that led to the creation of this admirable monument. According to Professor Arradopoulos, following the suggestion of Pericles (around 437-436 BC), Agnonas erected the marble lion in memory of the great sacrifices of the Athenians.
A second version states that the monument was erected in honor of the Spartan general Brasidas. After the 1937 excavations, archeology professor Oscar Broneer argued that the marble lion was erected in honor of Laomedon, a trusted competitor and companion of Alexander the Great.
According to Professor Lazarides’ version, it is a work of the 4th century BC and was created in honor of Leosthenes, the admiral of Alexander the Great.
Finally, according to the historian G. Kaftantzis, the creation of the monument is connected to the death of an important person or to a deadly battle between the people of Amphipolis and Philip II in 356 BC.
The opinions of archaeologists on the date of the monument’s destruction are divided. It is mentioned in 422 BC by the oligarchs under Brasida who hated the Athenians. Another version states that it was destroyed by the Heruli in 267 BC. There are also references in 365 BC by the Visigoths, in 1185 by the Normans, in 1204 by the Latins and in 1206 by the Bulgarians.
The creation of a Museum in the area with rare artifacts describe all the aspects of the history of Ancient Amphipolis and the surrounding area, which was one of the most important cities of all times.
Going south, the visitor will find the coastline of Serres, New Kerdylia. All the beaches of this part of the prefecture are ideal for swimming, camping.
Kerdyllia is a historic and heroic community near the mouth of the Strymonas river and is the only one in the prefecture of Serres with marine water. It is 50 km away from Nigrita, 70 km away from Serres. It got its name from Mount Kerdylion, which is part of the Kerdylia mountain range.
New Kerdylia is a beautiful and economically thriving community that can provide many opportunities to its residents. It has 767 inhabitants, many of whom are farmers, breeders, fishermen, while some are engaged in trade and tourism.
A point of reference in the recent history of Amphipolis is the holocaust of New Kerdyllia. It’s about the massacre of the inhabitants of the two villages, Ano Kerdyllia and Kato Kerdyllia, the first mass execution of Greeks by the German occupation troops.
Today, a monument “Symbol of Sacrifice” with a large marble cross raised on top reminds everyone of the incident of October 17th.
The Byzantine name of the village was Krusovai [plural because there were two villages, ano (upper) and kato (lower)]. Both of these villages were built high up on the Kerdylian mountain, where they survived throughout the Turkish occupation, until October 1941, when they suffered the consequences of the conquerors’ wrath.
Kerdylion was a village of Argilia, known from Thucydides. It was located northern of Argilia, in a high and panoramic position, on Mount Vertiskos (current Kerdylio) next to Strymonas and directly across from Amphipolis. They identify it with the, today destroyed by the Germans (1941), village of Kato Kerdylia, which is about 2 km away from Amphipolis.
A small copper coin, bearing the inscription KER and depicting on one side the head of Demeter, on the other a spike of barley, is attributed to Kerdylio. If the date is correct, it means that Kerdylio for some time, perhaps after 421 BC, was separated from Argylos and autonomous.
The name Kerdylio is most likely Thracian and perhaps means a heroic, martial village.