Daughter and sister of river gods, according to ancient legend, Mieza is built on the verdant foothills of Mount Vermion, between two royal cities, Aigai and Pella, and her sister, the metropolis of Veria. The ancient geographical sources (Ptolemy, Strabo, Pliny the Elder) rank it among the most important Macedonian cities. Mieza becomes famous thanks to Plutarch who mentions that this was the place where Aristotle taught Alexander and the royal pages.
The monumental complex of the ancient Gymnasium and of the Theater is located in the area outside the walls, south of the city, and its founding dates back to the years of Philip II (359-336 BC). With a large peristyle-palaestra, with imposing Doric galleries, banquet rooms and mosaics, the gymnasium with a total area of 30 acres is the largest and most luxurious ancient institution known to this day in Mieza. The imposing size, the architecture of the building that refers to the archetype of all peristyles, the palace of Aigai, as well as its direct relevance to the theater, and the fact that gymnasia and theaters, anywhere in the world, constitute the Greek city, lead to the conclusion that the legendary School of Aristotle was precisely this particular monumental complex.
As in every city within the core of the Macedonian kingdom, the political space of human life is organized by the city “asty”, the walled center of the city (Tsifliki), and the “chora”, the countryside that surrounds it with agricultural facilities and outdoor sanctuaries.
The house with the mosaics to the west of the ancient theater (Valavanifield) belongs to the Late Hellenistic phase of the settlement, while a villa from the imperial times was excavated in the foothills of the modern city of Naoussa (Baltanettosite). Farmhouses are autonomous and self-sufficient production units, which include luxury residences with bathrooms and mosaic floors, stables, craft and laboratory units. From a building of Roman times in the area of Kopanos, located in 1950, comes an inscribed Roman bust (2nd century AD) of the river god Olganos, who was probably worshiped in a local sanctuary.
The oldest remains of human presence in the area of the later city date back to the late Bronze Age. Cemeteries dating to the Early Iron Age and the Archaic/Classic period indicate continuity of habitation.
The first monumental burial structures, with the characteristic form of Macedonian tombs, were established at the time of the return of the veterans of Alexander's campaign (last decades of the 4th century BC). One of them was the noble citizen of Mieza Peukestas, commander of Alexander's fleet and commander of Persia. The cemeteries of ancient Mieza are organized around two main road axes: one in a SW-E direction that leads to the core of the ancient city (“Asty”) and then to Pella, and one in a N-S direction that leads to Veria and Aigai. The Macedonian tombs of Judgement ("Kriseos"), Palmettes ("Anthemion"), Kinch and the tomb of Lyson and Kalliklis are established along the first, while a rock cut tomb called "Tomb of the Athletes" is established in the area of the second one
Nymphaeum of Mieza
A cool and shady place, Nymphaeum has been an attraction linked in the memory of the citizens of Mieza to the figures of two great men: Alexander the Great and Aristotle since the time of Plutarch (1st-2nd century AD). It is located west of the ancient city and its cemeteries, in the location "Isvoria", in a green natural environment with clear streams, small caves and lush vegetation, the ideal place of residence and worship of the Nymphs.
The site was originally used as porosstone quarry. It was remodeled in the second half of the 4th century. BC, and with the addition of a small portico it acquires the characteristics of a sanctuary, dedicated to the Nymphs. The pediments of the entrances of the caves, as well as the constructions inside them, emphasize the sacred character and testify the ritual activities.
The theater of Mieza
The ancient theater of Mieza was discovered in 1992 and gradually excavated from 1993 onwards. Its maintenance and restoration works were carried out in two periods (2007-2008 and 2011-2014) within the framework of the 3rd CSF and the NSRF. Since then, every year, in the summer, it comes alive with various events and shows depending on the destination.
Archaeological research has proven the existence of three construction phases. The oldest and contemporary phase with the gymnasium dates back to the late classical/early Hellenistic era (second half of the 4th century BC).
The theater in its current form belongs to the third and last phase of the 2nd century. A.D. It is a relatively large theater with a 22 m diameter orchestra (part for the actors), located on the slope of a low hill overlooking the plain. The koilon (part of the theater for the viewers) carved out of the natural porosstone has five sectors. Today, from the original 19 rows of seating are preserved seven. The scene building, which was located to the east of the orchestra, consists of the proscenium, the main building of the scene, flanked by two side scenes. In the 4th c. AD, after the abandonment of the theater, the site is used as a quarry for the extraction of porosstone and a cemetery.
Macedonian tomb of the Judgment
Among the best-preserved Macedonian tombs, which have come to light until today, is that of Judgement (“Kriseos”), one of the most important burial monuments of ancient Mieza, built along the ancient road that connected the city with Pella. It owes its name to the unique in the area of ancient art pictorial representation that decorates it and whose theme is the Judgment of the Dead. It is dated to the last quarter of the 4th century BC. and it stands out among the Macedonian tombs for its monumental dimensions and its imposing facade, where the Doric and Ionic styles are combined.
In the lower part of the facade, between the Doric semi-columns, is represented, almost life-size, the soul-bearer Hermes (“Mercury”) who leads the deceased to the Judges of the Underworld, Aiacus and Rhadamanthy. The zone with triglyphs and metopes, where the battle against Centaurs is represented, the Ionic frieze with battle scenes in relief and the seven iconic windows complete the impressive façade of the tomb in the upper part.
Macedonian tomb of Palmettes (“Anthemion”)
Among the most brilliant and best-preserved monuments of ancient Mieza is the Macedonian tomb of Anthemia from the 3rd century. e.g., It was built, like the tomb of Judgement and the tomb of Kinch, on the course of the ancient road that connected Mieza with Pella.
The tomb of Anthemia is a double chamber with an Ionic facade. The ends of the pediment are decorated with three large, brightly colored Palmettes, to which it owes its name. On the pediment’s tympanon is a painting representing a mature couple on a banqueting couch. Impressive is also the fresco on the ceiling of the antechamber with floral branches and water flowers. In the main chamber, the walls of which are painted in black and red, there is a built bench and a stone burial case for the vase or urn that contained the burnt bones of the deceased.