If you want to understand the presence it is inevitable to go back to the past. You should walk from the beginning if you want to reach the end.
You should acknowledge and understand the first step so you could understand the once that you are supposed to make, to understand what it was and what it is now. All that at the end will bring you to the knowledge that the past and the future very easy, can become a part of your presence.
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As soon as you make the first step trough the narrow streets of Heraclea the history and the past will unfold under your feet. The name of Heraclea Lincestis inevitably brings each of us century’s back, in the period of the 4th century B.C., when this city was founded by Fillip II. Situated on one of the most important crossroads in that time, Via Egnacia (via Egnatia), Heraclea became the most important station in the region.
Its status inevitably influenced its fast development which is completely obvious not only from the historic sources, but also by the material remaining of the present site.
Each stone, each of the postaments covered with its own mysticism, brings the burden of the past. Its layers above itself the Hellenistic as well as the roman period. It braids them and creates the unique truth about this city where one after the other you can see the buildings from one or other time, place filled with columns and spread with mosaics.
The Portic of the Court (the end of the 3rd century) where the statues of the first priest of Heraclea - Tit Flavius Orest, the statue of the Goddess of justice and destiny - Nemesis have been placed, is actually the first building that will welcome you on your walk through Heraclea. The aqueduct (beginning of the 4th century) that apeares during each step down the street leads us to the Terma with its three rooms (beginning of the 4th century). They will speak up about some other, everyday dimension of the humans life and about the quality of life and care for the own health and hygiene.
Heraclea Lyncestis Bitola Photo Gallery
But the citizens of this city were not worried only about this earthly life, because however, they were more spiritual beings. Their believe in God, in Christ, comes to attention especially during the founding of the Heracleian Episcopacy and during the building of the Christian temples. The Small Basilica with its modest dimensions is only one of the Christian temples which opens your soul, and leads you to the Great Basilica, near the Baptisterium, but also to the other rooms of this imposing building.
The floor mosaics presented in these basilicas looks like a continuance of those from the Episcopal Residence. Filled with a thousands small stones placed in a perfect harmony they waves the mosaic story of the Christianity and represents one of a kind expression of the inner spiritual life of the population. The presentations of the underground world as well as the heavenly world opposed to the bloodthirst of the earthly life, looks like they are truing to reveal the secret of life. Life and death, good and evil as eternal opponents, can be deeply felt in the Theatre complex. Following the configuration of the terrain its architects fully managed to incorporate the twelve rows of seats, the the seats for the honourable people (the VIP seats), the scene (scaenae) and the orchestra, and to bring this building to a degree of perfection.
The admiration of the Theatre shows is changed by the terror of the venatours fights, the battle between a man and a beast, that happened right here, in the same arena. That agitates the souls of the visitors and causes chills .
The brutality of the war, the bloodthirst of the beast and the rivers of blood, spilled during these fights, could not been cleaned and washed away, not even by the waters from the city fountain that is nearby the Theatre. The fountain with its constant murmuring could only tell this story again and again, and again…
Text: Meri Stojanova
NI Institute and Museum Bitola