Philippi was a city in eastern Macedonia, in northern ancient Greece, founded by Philip II in 356 BC and abandoned in the 14th c after the Ottoman conquest. The present municipality Filippoi is located near the ruins of the ancient city and it is part of the periphery of East Macedonia, Greece.
The ancient city of Philippi, now the most important archaeological site in Eastern Macedonia, lies at the boundary of the marshes that cover the southeast part of the plain of Drama. The site was originally colonized by the people of Thasos, who, aware of the area's plentiful supplies of precious metals, timber, and agricultural products, established the city of Krinides in 360 BC. Soon after its establishment, however, Krinides was threatened by the Thracians (365 BC) and turned to King Philip II of Macedon for help. Realizing its economic and strategic potential, Philip conquered, fortified, and renamed the city after himself. Hellenistic Philippi had a fortification wall, a theatre, several public buildings, and private houses. The construction of the Via Egnatia through the city in the second century BC made Philippi an important regional centre. The dramatic battle of Philippi, which took place outside the west city walls in 42 BC, was a turning point in the city's history. The city was conquered by Octavian and renamed Colonia Augusta Julia Philippensis. The new Roman colony developed into a financial, administrative, and artistic centre.
Another important event marked the city's history a century later. Saint Paul founded the first Christian Church on European soil at Philippi in 49/50 AD. The establishment of the new religion and the city's proximity to Constantinople, the Roman Empire's new capital, brought new splendour. Three magnificent basilicas and the Octagon complex, the cathedral dedicated to Saint Paul, were erected in the city centre in the fourth-sixth centuries AD. After a series of earthquakes and Slavic raids, the lower city was gradually abandoned early in the seventh century. Philippi survived into the Byzantine period as a fortress, until its final demise in the late fourteenth century, after the Turkish conquest.
Noted or briefly described by 16th century travellers, the first archaeological description of the city was made in 1856 by Perrot, then in 1861 by L. Heuzey and H. Daumet in their famous Mission archéologique de Macédoine. Nevertheless the first excavations did not begin until the summer of 1914, and were soon interrupted by the First World War. The excavations, carried out by the École française d'Athènes, were renewed in 1920 and continued until 1937. During this time the Greek theatre, the forum, Basilicas A and B, the baths and the walls were excavated. After the Second World War, Greek archaeologists returned to the site. From 1958 to 1978 the Société Archéologique, then the Service archéologique and the University of Thessalonica uncovered the bishop's quarter and the octagonal church, large private residences, a new basilica near the Museum and two others in the necropolis to the east of the city.