Dion - History and Facts | History Hit


Dion, Macedonia - Thrace, Greece

Dion is an ancient city in Greece which became the religious centre of the Macedonian kingdom and now contains a number of Greek and Roman-era ruins.

Amy Irvine

21 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dion

Dion is an ancient city in Greece which contains a number of Greek and Roman-era ruins. Today it operates as an archaeological site and museum.

History of Dion

Very much a place of religious importance, Dion became the religious centre of the Macedonian kingdom in the 5th century BC as well as hosting important games.

In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great offered sacrifices at the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Dion before setting out on his campaign against the Persian Empire. He later donated a magnificent statue to the temple, portraying his fallen cavalry troops who had died at the Battle of Granicus. Heavily damaged by Aetolian invaders in 219 BC, the city was rebuilt and survived into the Roman era – indeed the Emperor Augustus founded a Roman colony here in 31 BC.

However, as the Empire weakened the threat of barbarian attack combined with natural disasters and slowly the city was abandoned. Though it survived into Byzantine times, there is no reference to ancient Dion after the 10th century AD.

Dion today

Today Dion Archaeological Site is located just outside the modern town and contains a number of interesting ruins from the Greek and Roman periods, including many Greek temples, such as the large Temple of Zeus as well as temples to Demeter, Isis and Asclepius.

The site also contains the remains of a Hellenistic theatre, a partly-preserved 2nd century AD Roman theatre, ancient baths and the ruins of several ancient villas. A later-Roman church can also be found here, probably dating to the 4th or 5th centuries. Among Dion’s other treasures is an extremely well preserved Macedonian tomb.

Dion Archaeology Museum operates at the site and contains a fascinating selection of artefacts found within the ruins.

Getting to Dion

Dion is located at the north-east foot of Mount Olympus, 3 miles from the sea, 9 miles from Katerini and 10.5 miles from the ancient Leivithra. Thessaloníki is 40 miles away to the north-east, a 57 mile / hour’s drive. By public transport, take a train from Thessaloniki to Katerini (50 minutes), then Dion is a 20 minute taxi ride.

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