The remains of Aristotle's School, just below contemporary Naoussa, in the position Isvoria, constitute a place of global interest. It is the place with running water and shady caverns mentioned by ancient authors, where the greatest philosopher of antiquity taught the greatness of classical Greek thought and ideals of Platonic philosophy to the son of the king of Macedonia, Philip II, Alexander and others Macedonian nobles of the court.
The meeting of these two great personalities of the ancient world in the Nymphaeum of Miezas, scientist Aristotle and Alexander the great commander was destined to affect definitely the future of humanity and the whole of Western civilization.
Mieza was famous for its waters, its gardens, its exceptional beauty and its famous Nymphaeum.
The space occupied by the Nymphaeum (i.e. the sanctuary dedicated to the Nymphs) is a very impressive natural landscape where the ancient building with three natural caves constitutes the main area of ​​the school.
The famous School, Peripatos (Promenade), was an elaborate structure made by local materials (limestone and wood of Mount Vermio). Climbing the stairs leading to the Promenade area we can see the columns of the floor upstairs and the path of the stairs from the ground floor to the upper floor. The School had two floors on one section with an exit to the upper level. The two-storey portico with Ionic columns in a Π shape -combined with the three natural caves that exist there- was the main area of ​​the school. The vertical face of the rock, where one can see the holes for the support beams of the roof, constituted the back of the shady portico, built from 350 BC onwards, where Aristotle taught “the moral and political reason” ( Plutarch VII, 668) to the offsprings of Macedonian nobles. Tiles and clay simas from the roof of the portico are exposed in the Archaeological Museum of Veroia. The landscape where the teacher walked with his students along the riparian paths full of dense vegetation, while gushing streams flowed calmly around them, is complemented by an even larger cavern a little further, with two carved entrances and of certain religious use.
The spring water is limpid and the place ideal for the worship of the Fountain or Naiad Nymphs. Inside the pond source we can observe the residues of the sanctuary, while around the caves with their stalactites and their stalagmites, there are pedestals of statues, probably of Pan.
In this site, worship ceremonies were held in honor of mother Earth, of nature and of water. Water, source of life, the womb of seeds and vegetation, became the symbol of an endless dynamic whereby everything is born and where everything returns. Earth is Mother Matter who contains the water that comes from the darkness of the womb to the light and, after a brief visit, back again in the dark, carrying life and death together. Key elements were communion (methexis) and ecstatc and orgiastic manifestations.
Sappho sings:
“All around a grove of tall trees, waterfed,
and below flowed like crystall,
from above, from the rocks, water”.
It is as though she was talking about the Nymphaeum of Mieza. The isvoria (=sources) contribute to the development of a rich flora. Through the foliage and water, steep rocks appear, forming a stone volume with mysterious cave openings.
There, following the choice of the great philosopher Aristotle, was constructed the building that housed the philosopher and his disciples, Alexander and the surrounding princes of the Macedonian court.
The location is ideal, with a mild climate, beautiful natural surroundings and the area enclosed by two levels. On the first level, the beautiful natural environment; on the upper level, a prominent view open on every side.
The fauna is rich, the flora too; slightly below, the lake of Vorvoros (=mud), training area for Alexander who, far from the palace’s entourage, delved into the Greek education, a privileged recipient of the heritage of great philosophers. The building was used for the operation of the school for four years. Aristotle and his pupil Theophrastus stayed for two more years and worked on his writing and research work.
Valsamidis E., Mieza: Nymphaeum – School – Graves, Naoussa, 2005
A Walk in Miezas Nymphaeum, Ministry of Culture, 2008
The Environmental Education Center of Naoussa:
Municipality of Naoussa: