Ruins of Episcopal Basilica at the Archaeological Park of Dion.

© Arsty/Getty Images/iStock

Ancient Dion


Dating to the 5th century BC, Dion was sacred to ancient Macedonians worshipping the Olympian gods, especially Zeus, thought to reside on the awesome heights of nearby Olympus. Before his world-binding conquests, Alexander the Great made sacrifices here. Signs and stone footings indicate extant sights including sacred springs, villas and a ruined Roman theatre. This watery, wooded area is also rich in wildlife: look out for frogs tumbling into often-flooded sanctuaries, and the snakes and kingfishers that hunt them.

The ruins of the 6th-century-BC Sanctuary of Demeter are the first you'll see and are the site's oldest. Further along is the leafy Sanctuary of Zeus Hypsistos, which bears copies of statues and column bases (the originals are in the on-site museum). Other replicas adorn the remnants of Dion’s (usually flooded) Sanctuary to Isis, goddess of childbirth, across a small bridge. As elsewhere in the Hellenistic world, worship of this Egyptian goddess was merged with that of Artemis and Aphrodite. Later constructions include 4th-century-AD Christian basilica ruins and public baths once paved with mosaics.

The park has a small visitor centre with cafe. Entry includes the Archaeological Museum of Dion, a 10-minute walk from the site and well worth the effort for its splendid statuary and mosaics. Taxis from Litohoro to Dion cost around €14.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Macedonia attractions

1. Archaeological Museum of Dion

0.38 MILES

This three-floor museum in Dion village is packed with votive statues from the sanctuaries at Ancient Dion, plus grave monuments and a large collection of…

2. Mt Olympus


The cloud-covered lair of the Ancient Greek pantheon, awe-inspiring Mt Olympus is simply spectacular. It fires visitors' imaginations today, just as it…

3. Castle of Platamonas

13.06 MILES

Looming from an imposing coastal bluff near Platamonas village, 20km south of Plaka Litohorou, this well-preserved stronghold assumed much of its present…

4. Vergina Royal Tombs Museum

23.29 MILES

A grass-covered tumulus (burial mound) has been converted into a truly spine-tingling museum where visitors can descend to unspoiled royal Macedonian…

5. Byzantine Museum

28.12 MILES

This museum in a restored mill will turn you from novice to nerd in all things Byzantine. Splendorous icons, huge 5th-century floor mosaics and ornate…

7. Barbouta

28.34 MILES

Walk from Plateia Antoniou down Vasileos Konstantinou to find Veria's atmospheric former Jewish quarter. The synagogue (with the bright blue-and-yellow…

8. Old Metropolis

28.36 MILES

One of the largest Byzantine buildings in the Balkans, this basilica has a chequered past. Dedicated to St Paul in the 11th century, it was remade as a…