During Byzantine and Ottoman years, the city was known in Greek as Άγιοι Απόστολοι (Ayiοi Apostolοi), rendered in Slavic as Постол (Postol), until it reverted to its ancient name in 1936.
The city-state of Pella was the palace-capital of ancient Macedon, (now in Greece), removed from the older palace-city of Aigai (Vergina) by king Archelaus I of Macedon, (413–399 BC), who invited the painter Zeuxis, the greatest painter of the time, to decorate it. Archelaos was the host of the Athenian playwright Euripides in his retirement. Euripides Bacchae premiered here, about 408 BC. Pella was the birthplace of Philip II of Macedon and of Alexander the Great, his son. The hilltop palace of Philip, where Aristotle tutored young Alexander, is being excavated.
In antiquity, Pella was a port connected to the Thermaic Gulf by a navigable inlet, but the harbor has silted, leaving the site landlocked.
Archaeological digs in progress since 1957 have uncovered a small part of the city, which was made rich by Alexander and his heirs. The large agora or market, was surrounded by the shaded colonnades of stoae, and streets of enclosed houses with frescoed walls round inner courtyards. The first trompe-l'oeil wall murals imitating perspective views ever seen were on walls at Pella. There are temples to Aphrodite, Demeter and Cybele, and Pella's pebble-mosaic floors, dating after the lifetime of Alexander, are famous: some reproduce Greek paintings; one shows a lion-griffin attacking a stag, another depicts Dionysus riding a leopard.
The famous poet Aratus died in Pella c. 240 BC. Pella was sacked by the Romans in 168 BC, when its treasury was transported to Rome. It was then destroyed by earthquake in the 1st century BC; shops and workshops dating from the catastrophe have been found with remains of their merchandise. The city was eventually rebuilt over its ruins, which preserved them, but ca 180 AD Lucian could describe it in passing as "now insignificant, with very few inhabitants" .
The word Pella is a form of the Doric Greek word Apella, originally meaning a ceremonial location were decisions were made. The city was founded by Archelaus I specifically to become the capital of his kingdom.
Based of the descriptions provided by Titus Livius, the site was excavated by voyagers including Holand, Pouqueville, Beaujour, Cousinéry, Delacoulonche, Hahn, Glotz and Struck in the 19th century. The first excavation was begun by G. Oikonomos in 1914-1915. The systematic exploration of the site began in 1953 and full excavation was being done in 1957. The first series of campaigns were completed in 1963, including more excavations in 1980. These digs continue in the part identified as the agora.
In the late 1970s, the archaeologist Manolis Andronikos discovered the grave of Philip II of Macedon, who was the father of Alexander III of Macedon. Among the findings was a box made of gold along with the golden Vergina Star, which was an apple of discord between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the early 1990s.
In February of 2006 a farmer accidently uncovered the largest funeral tomb ever found in Greece. The names of the noble ancient Macedonian family are still on inscriptions and painted sculptures and walls have survived. The tomb dates to the 2nd or 3rd century BC, following the rule of Alexander the Great. , 
- Ch. J. Makaronas, Pella: Capital of Ancient Macedonia, pp 59-65, in Scientific American, Special Issue, Ancient Cities, c 1994.
- Ph. Petsas, Pella. Alexander the Great's Capital, Thessaloniki, 1977.
- D. Papakonstandinou-Diamandourou, Πέλλα. Ιστορική επισκόπησις και μαρτυρίαι Pella istoriki episkopisis kai martyriai (, in Greek), Thessaloniki, 1971.
- R. Ginouvès e. a., La Macédoine, CNRS Éditions, Paris, 1993, 90-98.
- F. Papazoglou, Les villes de Macédoine romaine, BCH Suppl. 16, 1988, 135-139.