Heraclea Lyncestis

Top choice in North Macedonia

Located 1km south of central Bitola, Heraclea Lyncestis is among North Macedonia's best archaeological sites, though the neglected state of the on-site museum might make you think otherwise. See the Roman baths, portico and amphitheatre, and the striking early Christian basilica and episcopal palace ruins, with beautiful, well-preserved floor mosaics – they're unique in depicting endemic trees and animals. There's a small shady cafe in the grounds and the setting is bucolic.

Founded by Philip II of Macedon, Heraclea became commercially significant before the Romans arrived (168 BC), and its position on the Via Egnatia kept it prosperous. In the 4th century, Heraclea became an episcopal seat, but it was sacked by Goths and then Slavs.

Taxis from central Bitola cost 80MKD but they don't hang around at the site – ask the staff at the entrance desk if they wouldn't mind calling one for you when you want to leave. Alternatively, there's a bus stop back on the main road heading north into central Bitola. The city's main bus and train stations are no more than a 15-minute walk from Heraclea Lyncestis, so if you're passing through town, it's easy enough to visit on foot: turn left onto the main road in front of the stations, walk for 500m with the park on your right and then past it, and take the right-hand signposted turn-off to the ruins. Follow the narrow road past the cemetery (on your right) until you reach the site.

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