Every year, more and more people head north to Macedonia to see the cluster of ancient sites associated with Philip II of Macedon and his famous son, Alexander the Great; these include Pella, Vergina, and Dion. Many of these visitors are Greeks whose interest in things Macedonian intensified in 1991 when, just across the border, the former Yugoslavian district of Macedonia proclaimed itself a republic. How dare these non-Greeks take the name of Macedonia, Greeks asked -- forgetting that their own ancestors had not considered Philip of Macedon a Greek! Most of all, Greeks were furious that Philip's best-known royal symbol -- a star with 16 rays -- appeared on the new Macedonia's flag. Throughout Greece, debates raged over whether this new self-styled Macedonia had imperialistic aims. For once, Greece's long-standing enmity with Turkey was ignored, as Greeks painted MACEDONIA IS GREECE on almost every road and wall in the country. Things calmed down after the new Republic of Macedonia changed its flag, but many Greeks are still rediscovering their ancestral links with Philip, the northern king who conquered Greece in 338 B.C.
The renewed interest in Philip (382-336 B.C.), Alexander (356-323 B.C.), and Macedonia itself has led the Greek Archaeological Service to redouble its efforts to excavate the Macedonian royal sites and build site museums. And that, of course, means that there's much more to see aboveground than there was even a few years ago.
Macedonian Wine -- One of the many pleasures of Macedonia is its wine. Mavromatina retsina and the reds and whites of the Boutsaris winery in Naoussa are famous throughout Greece -- and, increasingly, abroad. Check out www.wineroads.gr for information on the vineyards and wineries of Macedonia (click on the British flag for English). The site www.greekwine.gr is also very helpful, as is Miles Lambert-Gocs's paperback, The Wines of Greece. You can even plan your visits to the Philip and Alexander sites around your visits to local vineyards!