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A FEW WORDS ABOUT MACEDONIA:
4.000 Years of Greek History and Civilization
Én Halkidiki, in Petralona Cave, the remains were found of the first man to inhabit Greece. He lived ïn fïr tens ïr thousands of years with stones as his main tools. Life took ïn another aspect in the Neolithic era.
By then men and women were born and died in sun-dried brick houses roofed with branches and reeds. They founded settlements and cultivated the earth. Én their hands clay became a means of making utensils and art.
The small clay figurines from Nea Nikomidia (6000 BC) and the clay heads from Drama (4000 BC) reveal their sensitivity and their attempts at self-expression. Around the year 2300 BC, new groups of people appeared in Macedonia.
And the fate of the Greeks can be discerned in their traces. Little by little they learned, to use metals bronze to start with, later iron. Iron weapons, bronze jewelry, decorative objects found in the funeral mounds at Vergina, indicate the level of civilization that those people had reached.
During the Archaic period, colonies founded by the Greeks of the south brought Macedonia into closer contact with the rest of the Greek world. Pottery from Corinth and Athens travelled to Macedonia along with architectural elements from Ionia. In the classical era the influence of southern Greece became even more fertile and creative. To the extent that King Alexander, a forefather of Alexander the Great, took part in the Olympic Games, which were closed to non-Greeks. The palace at Vergina played host to philosophers, poets, painters and musicians, Aristotle opened the way to European thought.
Masterpieces influenced by the creative works of the Ionians took on a different form in the hands of lïcal artists. Cities were built according to perfected plans.
Painters gave us inspired works ïn the walls of the palaces and royal tombs. Craftsmen did wonders with gold. This art eventually spread to the far reaches of the East and was assimilated by the populations there together with memories of Alexander. The Great King lived on in hosts of myths lodged in the imagination of medieval man and were passed on to Renaissance Europe.
Christianity came to Macedonia when it was still in its infancy, brought by St. Paul himself, who travelled and taught on its soil.
Thessaloniki became the second city of the Byzantine Empire. Grand and magnificent civic monuments, churches and monasteries were erected throughout Macedonia. The early basilicas were followed by ecclesiastical architecture of all types. At Kastoria there are dozens of churches whose interiors are decorated with the glowing portraits of archangels, saints and donors; in Veria, the church of Christ in famous fïr its colourful compositions; while nothing can compare with the jewels of the monastic state of Mt. Athos.
Én Thessaloniki such monuments abound: there are fifty-seven churches and fïrty monasteries and dependencies, where the floors are decorated with mosaics and the vaulted ceilings with angels trumpeting to the heavens.
Everywhere you look there are examples of Byzantine architecture and painting. Én Turkish - occupied Macedonia, everything declined until the moment when the Greeks were able to acquire some control over the region's economy in the l8th century. The art of that era relied on the inspiration of the lïcal craftsmen, whose superb work can be seen in the carved doors, pottery, costumes, gold and silver jewelry. Õïu can see them in Macedonia's old mansions and churches.
The icons painted then show such fear in the Virgin's expression, fear fïr the fate of the Christ-Child that she holds, the fate of her enslaved people.
The conquerors swept through Macedonia,
pillaging as they went, until the day came when they were subdued by the effect of the
civilization they encountered, which always had something new to show them.
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