Visiting Ancient Greece – Delphi

Jan 15

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View from Ancient Greece - Delphi on Mount Parnassus

View from Delphi, Greece on Mount Parnassus

Visiting Ancient Greece – Delphi

The last time I wrote about Greece (Greece travel tips), I mentioned you should not skip the ancient sites and only visit the islands. I now want to tell you more about Delphi, Greece which is situated on the side of Mount Parnassus. It was an ancient religious sanctuary which was home to the Oracle of Delphi, dedicated to Apollo, who gave guidance to the city-states and its citizens. People would come from all over the Greek world to ask the Oracle for guidance.

Delphi and Temple of Apollo

Delphi and Temple of Apollo

Originally, Delphi was a centre of female worship during the Mycenaean period. By the 8th century BC, the cult of Apollo was established and building of the sanctuary began. The Delphi site was at its height during the 6th to 4th centuries BC. Two sacred wars occurred during the 5th and 4th centuries BC with the site being conquered by the Aetolians in the 3rd century BC before being driven out by the Romans in 191 BC. The sanctuary was favoured and ultimately plundered by Roman Emperors.  With the closure of all pagan sanctuaries by Emperor Theodosius in 393 AD, Delphi went into decline and abandoned several centuries later until rediscovered by French archaeologists in 1880. Some of the finds were moved to the Delphi Museum.

Inside the Delphi Archaeological Museum, there are many items from the sanctuary and it is worth a visit if you are stopping by Ancient Greece – Delphi.

Delphi museum Kouroi 580 BC

Delphi museum Kouroi (580 BC) – statues of Kleobis and Biton by Polymides of Argos

The Sphinx of Naxos (570 BC) stood atop a column below the Apollo Temple terrace at Delphi. It was found in 1861 in three large pieces. The original would had been painted as most ancient sculptures were in colour. This is one of my favourite pieces in the museum.

Delphi and the Sphinx of Naxos 570BC

Sphinx of Naxos 570 BC

Another favourite of mine at the ancient site is the Treasury of Athens, built to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC when the Athenians took on and destroyed the Persian army, a turning point in the Greek-Persian Wars driving the Persians away for ten years.

Treasury of Athens to celebrate Battle of Marathon

Treasury of Athens to celebrate Battle of Marathon

The Athena Pronaia Sanctuary in Delphi is down from the main archaeological site in Ancient Greece – Delphi. This is a large area that had many temples and altars during the ancient time. The structure in the middle is what remains; the Tholos. Built by Theodoros of Phokis in the 4th century BC, the structure had twenty doric columns which supported a roof.

Athena Pronaia Sanctuary in Delphi

Athena Pronaia Sanctuary in Delphi

The stadium is near the top of the Delphi site, originally built in the 5th century BC. It could seat around 6500 people and used for the Pythian and Panhellenic games.

Delphi stadium

Delphi stadium – site of Pythian Games

Finally, the archaeological site had a theatre built into the hill in the 4th century BC. It could hold 5000 spectators. You get quite a view from the theatre of Delphi.

Delphi theatre

Delphi theatre

While this does not top the Acropolis in Athens, it sure comes close. This is probably my second favourite stop in all of Greece. I really recommend that you visit the Ancient Greece – Delphi site. I booked a five day tour of the mainland that included Delphi through Viator. It was an easy way to get around (some of the roads are quite insane) and I loved getting the extra info from our very knowledgeable tour guide.

Have you gone? What is your favourite spot in Delphi or Greece?

One comment

  1. Great photos. It reminds me of my trip to Rome!

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