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GREEK NEWS

Alexander the Great’s Bathroom Discovered at Aigai Palace

Palace of Philip Aigai Vergina Macedonia Greece
Palace of Aigai, part of the Kingdom of Macedonia. Credit: Greek Reporter

Archaeologists say they have discovered Alexander the Great’s bathroom at the Aigai Palace in northern Greece.

The discovery is unveiled in the final episode of the Channel 4 series Bettany Hughes‘ Treasures of the World, which airs on May 11.

Set in the ceremonial center of the ancient Macedonian kingdom, the 15,000 square meter Aigai palace is three times the size of the Parthenon, with its gated city walls, courtyard, temples, sanctuaries, theatre, palaestra – or boxing school – and tombs.

Drain pipe points to Alexander the Great’s bathroom

“There’s a massive drain cut into the rock and a communal bathroom. This would have been where Alexander the Great bathed with his companions – his famous favorite Hephaestion and all those young men who then travelled with him on campaigns and after his death squabbled over his empire,” Hughes says.

Bathroom Aigai
Archaeologists have discovered the palaestra and bathroom where the teenage Alexander bathed. Credit: Sandstone Global Productions/Channel 4

“There were all these rites of passage they went through. They were incredibly active in the gym, fighting and wrestling. They were trained to hunt. Imagine those communal baths at the end of football matches,” she notes.

His bedroom has not been identified yet but all the quarters of the palace are there. “So, I haven’t gone into Alexander’s bedroom yet, but I have got into his bathroom.”

Palace of Aigai one of the most impressive buildings of classical Greece

Greece opened the Palace of Aigai, where Alexander the Great was sworn in as king, in January after years of restoration work.

The Palace of Aigai, known today as Vergina, is considered not only the biggest but along with the Parthenon, the most significant building of classical Greece.

Constructed during the reign of Philip II (359 – 336 BC) on a raised outcrop in Vergina in northern Greece, the palace, a remarkable landmark and symbol of power and beauty three times the size of the Parthenon, was visible from the whole Macedonian basin.

Archaeological evidence proves that the site was continuously inhabited beginning in the Early Bronze Age (3rd Millenium BC), while in the Early Iron Age (11th to 8th centuries BC), it became an important, rich, and densely populated center.

The city reached its zenith in the Archaic (7th – 6th centuries BC) and Classical periods (5th-4th centuries), when it was the most important urban center of the area, the seat of the Macedonian kings, and the site for the establishment of many traditional sanctuaries.

The Palace of Aigai was designed for Philip II by an ingenious architect, most likely Pytheos, known for his contribution to the construction of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the development of urban planning and the theory of proportion.

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