Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia, later conquered by Macedon, and later turned into the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris (now near Gradsko in the Republic of Macedonia).
It is located on the main road that leads from the Danube to the Aegean Sea and is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in the Republic of Macedonia. Stobi was built where the Erigón River (mod. Crna) joins the Axiós River (mod. Vardar), making it strategically important as a center for both trade and warfare.
The old city of Stobi “…Stobis, vetus urbs…”, as the Roman historian Livy named it, at the confluence of rivers Crna and Vardar, was the largest city in the northern part of the Roman province Macedonia, later capital city of the Roman province Macedonia Secunda, an important urban, military, administrative, trade and religious center of two large empires: Roman and Early Byzantine.
Located in the heart of Macedonia, on the crossroads between the Aegean World and the Central Balkan, during the whole period of its existence it was a place where cultural achievements of the ancient world gathered in a unique way.
Thetown of Stobi was built in the Hellenic period, some time before the rule of the Macedonian king Philip theFifth. It was situated 160 km from Thessalonica on the main road Via Egnatia that led from the Danube to theAegean Sea.
Because of its location, Stobi was an important army, strategic, economic and cultural center atthe time. Owing to the numerous historical and literary documents and archeological findings fromthorough research done in the area, there is a complete urban picture of Ancient Stobi, its architecturalstructure and organization of life, which speaks of a highly developed urban society with a high level ofcultural development.
Considering these facts and according to some additional sources, the beginnings ofStobi were much earlier, in the 7th and 6th Century BC. Some bronze objects discovered here and datingfrom ancient times include ceramic findings, which point to life in it as early as the Neolith and the IronAge.The town was rather developed in the early andmiddle Roman period, partly owes this status of a“municipium” to its mint, where coins with the sign“Municipium Stobensium” were made. The “denar” coinswere produced here, too. Numerous monuments withsigns and buildings that are unique for their beauty have also beenfound.
The Museum of Belgrade was the first and only institution to investigate the city from 1924 to 1936. Yugoslavian archaeologists first discovered public and private buildings in the city and then the city's theater, built in the 3rd century, and religious artifacts from the central and western part of the city.
Research into the city officially ended in 1940.
During World War II late Hellenistic graves were found in the Palace of Peristerius, many of which had been covered by buildings. In 1970, between the North and Central Basilica and in the western necropolis 55 graves were discovered. In 1955 in the southern part of the North Basilica 23 Slavic graves dating from the 9th to 12th centuries were discovered.
Bronze statues from the archaic and classical periods as well as ceramic objects from the Neolithic era were discovered in the two parts of the civil basilica. An older part of the second synagogue was discovered in the Central Basilica, as well as architectonic structures and 23 Slavic graves in the North Basilica. The most significant finds were uncovered between 1970 and 1980 by Yugoslav and American archaeologists.
In this period more buildings were discovered and new expeditions in the western necropolis, the Casa Romana and in the aqueduct network of Stobi revealed more mosaics. From 1981 to 1988 the Episcopal Basilica was unearthed. These investigations confirmed predictions concerning the religion, culture and daily life of its population.
A well-preserved marble head of Augustus was unearthed at Stobi in April 2009.
Today, the remains of this famous archaeological site are equally easily approachable from the E-75 corridor of the international highway, thus making it very popular tourist destination in Macedonia. The nocturnal illumination of the city walls and preserved monuments, additionally emphasize its beauty and attractiveness.