Situated just off the Thessaloniki - Athens motorway, the Alexandrion is just outside the Litochoro exit. The combination of classical Greek construction with modern materials gives it a dominant yet attractive form.
Greeks from Macedonia had the idea to erect a monument in their homeland at the foot of Mount Olympus, near the Zeus Shrine in Dion, a symbol of their bond with their homeland and at the same time a place of encounter. What was nearer than devoting to the most important son of the country, Alexander the Great.
In order to put the idea into practice, the "Alexander The Great International Foundation" was commissioned with the planning and construction of a building. It is based in New York, USA. Direct supervision of the company is the responsibility of a nine-seater committee chaired by Dionysis Paschalis, based in Katerini. The building was built in 1992 on a plot of more than 6 hectares. He was financed by Macedonian connections from all over the world and the Greek state.
The Alexander The Great International Foundation focuses on cultural, artistic and intellectual activities. One of their aims is to preserve the Greek way of life, language, culture and national identity. In particular, the cultural heritage of Macedonia is to be preserved alive.
When I asked Mr Paschalis for a conversation, he proposed to visit the Alexandrion at an event. Sport and cultural heritage should be appreciated. Before the event began, the landlord found still time to show us through his building. The publicly accessible part is reached by a square courtyard, which is used during the summer for smaller events. The interior consists of a U-shaped space, on whose walls maps and photographs hang. In addition to pictures from the nearby Dion archaeological site and their findings, it is, of course, illustrations related to the life of Alexander the Great. The largest map shows in detail the route of his campaign. Apart from that the pictures are many paintings and a copy of the Alexandermosaik from Pompei.
Some artefacts from pre-Christian times and drawings depicting scenes of life at the time of Alexander are in front of the exit. The importance of the exhibits has been expertly explained by an archaeologist. It established a link between the ancient site in Dion and the Alexanderian campaign. After an approximately one-hour tour of the premises, the visitor is thoroughly informed about the life, work and the campaign of Alexander.
For larger events, in good weather, the forecourt of the building is used. In winter or in bad weather the interior. The list of high-profile guests is long. In addition to the Greek President and the head of the Orthodox Church, Including the German Ambassador, the President of the Police and high-ranking military.
On this day, however, the attention of the Greek association of the Pankration. It is the oldest martial art in the world. According to Greek mythology, it was invented by Theseus to fight the Minotaur without weapons. In the records of the Olympic Games in 648 BC, Pankration was mentioned for the first time. The name means roughly "All-combat" and is to be understood to use impact, throwing, kicking, levering and wrestling techniques to defeat the opponent. In ancient times this sport was extremely brutal and could end with the death of the vanquished. After an impressive demonstration before the Alexandrion, a young fighter assured me that it is now a safe sport. Injuries are therefore rare.
The purpose of the delegation's visit was to publicly express their desire to olympic recognition of their sport. However, the conversation with a Pankration master revealed that this will be a long way off. First, the ancient Greek martial art, as the Far Eastern martial arts, are to be established worldwide. A training center for trainers in Veria, North Greece, is to be supported.