There is a line of hills, running parallel to the coastline, that separate Neapolis and Philippi. The Via Egnatia crosses a saddle between two of these hills on its way northwest to Philippi. Philippi is located at the tip of the western arm of the Lakanis Mountains with a relatively flat plain before it and a good farmland valley spreading 270o around it. Humans have lived here for about 10,000 years.
Greek settlers came to the area in 360 BC for the fertile land and for the gold deposits in the mountains on the west side of the valley. In 356 BC, when the Thracians threatened to invade, the residents asked Philip II, king of Macedonia (father of Alexander the Great), for his help. Philip saw an opportunity to expand his kingdom and strengthen his border with Thrace while also acquiring the means to pay for all of this and more. He took charge of the city, built sturdy walls around it, sent Macedonian settlers to live there, relocated Macedonia’s coin-making facility there, and renamed it Philippi.
During the reigns of Philip and Alexander the city of Philippi continued to grow and prosper. A theater was built, infrastructure projects were planned and completed, and many public buildings were erected. In 168 BC the Romans took over. In October of 42 BC the armies of Octavius and Antony defeated the armies of Cassius and Brutus on the plain below Philippi. Afterwards Philippi became a Roman colony and many of the Roman soldiers settled here.
In the winter of 49/50 AD Paul and his friends arrived in Philippi and founded the first church in Europe. We all have a past – how has your history shaped who you are?