Cultural-historical heritage \ Ancient town \ Bitola, Macedonia
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Heraclea Lyncestis is a ancient Macedonian town found by the ancient Macedonian King Phillip 2nd in the middle of the 4th century BC, but most of the remains that can be seen in Heraclea Lyncestis are from the Roman and the early christian period.
Heraclea Lyncestis was an important strategical town during the Hellenistic period as it was at the edge of Macedonia border with Epirus to the west, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea Lyncestis, and made Heraclea Lyncestis an important stop. The prosperity of Heraclea Lyncestis was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built the theater in the center of Heraclea Lyncestis, on a hill, when many buildings in the roman province ofMacedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. The theater went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD), Heraclea Lyncestis was an important episcopal centre. Some of Heraclea Lyncestis bishops have been noted in the acts of the Church Councils as bishop Evagrius of Heraclea in the Acts of the Sardica Council from 343 AD.
In the late 6th century Heraclea Lyncestis suffered successive attacks by Slavic tribes. In place of the deserted theater several houses were built between the 6th century and the 7th century AD, when Slavs settled across the northern regions of the Balkans.
Just small portion of Heraclea Lyncestis has been unearthed, including a theatre, two water fountains, courthouse, baths, bishops palace and two basilicas. There is a small museum on the grounds with few artifacts and a nice scale model of the city at its peak.
The entrance in the Heraclea Lyncestis museum is included in the ticket for the site.