The Cave of Hercules is a subterranean vaulted space dating back to Roman times located in the alley of San Ginés. The cave is under the Church of San Ginés.
The structure was likely constructed in the time of the Roman Empire, probably towards the second half of the 1st century, when it was used as a water reservoir. It is located in the east corner of the current courtyard and was built in two construction phases. It was covered with a barrel vault, realized in ashlar, and displayed the aspect of a great tank to the open sky, with an overflow at the edge. The first half of the wall, made in Roman concrete and covered with Opus signinum, is preserved, and overlooks San Ginés alley.
The structure was deeply altered with the construction of an arcade of three arches of ashlars in the southwest side. This divides the primitive one in two and currently separates it from the other half of the deposit, belonging to No. 2 of San Ginés street. It is unknown whether this change occurred in the first or second phase of construction. The second half of the northeast wall that faces the street was constructed in the second Roman phase. A facade was built in Opus quadratum of seven rows of ashlars of varying size, which is attached to the northeast lateral wall of the hydraulic structure of the first phase. The size was increased from the northwest to the southeast by creating a new line of orientation to the wall, which is the one that generates the trapezoidal plant that will have the nave. In this space, different rupture interfaces are observed along the entire surface.
In the Visigothic era, it is probable that there was a Visigothic church on the property. In the Al-Andalus period, constructions were developed, probably a mosque, in whose walls were embedded Visigothic reliefs. This mosque followed a structure similar to others of the city, being a small oratory with practically square plant, four interior columns and nine vaults or domes.
The first references to this property as the church of San Ginés come from 1148. At the end of this Late medieval epoch, or the beginning of the Early modern age, a series of changes were made, such as the creation of five individual chapels.
The building deteriorated during a prolonged period of the Early modern era. Abandoned and closed to the public during the 18th century, the church was demolished in 1841. The wall of the entrance, where several Visigothic reliefs are embedded, was partially preserved, as were the remains of the sacristy. The lot, including the vaults beneath, was put up for sale and was parceled out among several neighbors.
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.