When we first got to Philippi, we started at the river which would have been located outside the western wall of the city. This is the traditional cite where Lydia and other Jews were meeting for worship regularly. It could possibly be the river in which the first European converts were baptized, but it is certainly the river in which thousands of Christians have been baptized over the last several centuries. This is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of Christians of every denomination. A formal baptistery has been built into part of the river with a small theater on one side for people to witness the baptism. It was incredible being able to wade around the river and sing songs like “As the Deer”.
The main city, as you can see, is still in ruins. Very few parts of buildings are standing. It is mainly just foundations and rubble. The coolest structure still partly standing was one of the basilicas, which still had its four corners standing at least 50 feet high. But this was only one of three or four gigantic church buildings in the ancient city.
As you may know, the famous Via Egnatia runs straight through the city. It was a road built by the Romans that stretched about 350 miles or so, from the port city Neapolis, through Philippi, and on through Berea and Thessaloniki. We got to walk along the road which we know for a fact that Paul walked along as he traveled through this part of Europe.
The city also has a pretty good size theater which is undergoing a massive restoration effort. In this theater people would watch everything from plays and choral performances to gladiatorial battles and executions. I guess that’s all part of being a free Roman colony.