Amphipolis and Apollonia were both probably overnight stops for Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. There are local traditions that Paul preached the Good News in both cities and that new believers started and continued churches in each of these places. In Amphipolis there is a hill known as “Paul’s Hill” or Toupolo. In Apollonia there is a rock from which Paul is said to have preached.
Amphipolis was founded by the Athenians in 437 BC. As its name indicates it was surrounded by water on three sides – the Strymon River (now known as the Struma). The Spartans occupied Amphipolis in 424 BC and then Philip II of Macedonia conquered it in 357 BC. Built on a hill less than a mile from the mouth of the river that surrounded it and with forests all around, Amphipolis was well situated for ship building. When the Romans took over in 168 BC they divided Macedonia into four administrative regions with the easternmost region’s capital at Amphipolis. In 49/50 AD Paul and friends would have found a thriving city with Greeks, Romans, and a few Jews. The Lion of Amphipolis, pictured below, was built in the late 4th century BC in honor of either Laomedon or Nearchus, both friends of Alexander the Great.
The apostles kept traveling west on the Via Egnatia. About ten miles west of Amphipolis the road left the coast to bypass the Chalkidiki Peninsula. A choice had to be made to either go to the north or the south of Lakes Volvi and Koronia. The modern highway was built along the northern shores of those two lakes but the ancient road was built on the southern shores. One of the main reasons for picking the southern route was the city of Apollonia.
Apollonia was founded in 432 BC by Athenian settlers invited by king Perdiccas II of Macedonia. It was named for the god Apollo and a large temple of Apollo was built in the city. Apollonia remained important through the Roman and Byzantine eras and into the Ottoman occupation because it was located on the Via Egnatia.
Do you ever feel like a well-trampled road? From where does your help come?