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Delphi

Listed under Archaeological Sites in Central Greece, Greece.

  • Photo of Delphi
  • Photo of Delphi
  • Photo of Delphi
  • Photo of Delphi
  • Photo of Delphi
Photo of Delphi
Photo by mikelyvers
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She was one of the few women with any power in ancient Greece, the priestess who presided over the oracle at Delphi, reading prophecies inspired by great god Apollo between the 8th Century BC and around 400 AD. She appears in many stories, in turns dancing and speaking in tongues and speaking lucidly in her own voice. Suspicions that there was a fissure below the temple from which poured gas which induced this state were discredited by the first team to excavate in 1892, but have since been reconsidered. The priestess went into a separate chamber where they could easily have been exposed to some form of hallucinogenic gas which gave them the vision.

Delphi was also the centre of the earth for the ancient Greeks. Apollo was believed to have defeated a python on this spot, who was guarding the Earth Goddess Gaia, then freed. Afterwards Apollo lived here. Apollo was blamed for the earthquakes the area suffered and when the contact between he and the inhabitants facilitated by the oracle is taken into account he was an interventionist deity, so the beautiful and wealthy buildings and temples that were constructed here are logical tributes to an active god.

Most relics visible today date from the heyday of the oracle during the 6th Century. Probably the most famous is the Temple of Apollo, a columned Doric temple built on top of earlier temples, possibly felled in earthquakes, but this is the spot, at a rise in ground, where the oracle would have sat. Treasuries and statues were built along the slopes as thanks to the oracle for advice and Delphi itself was quite wealthy, the variety of artifacts found here is excellent, proving ancient shopping was very good.

The theatre is the first thing you notice on arriving at the spot. It's well preserved and the backdrop is beautiful. It's a one of the classic sights of classical Greece, a place to imagine the grand orations. The stadium, where the first games were held, is higher up the ridge. Parts of the ancient stone wall have also survived and are covered in inscriptions, a great source of information on life in ancient Delphi and some of them rather beautifully done and well preserved.

The modern town of Delphi was moved off the site of the original, but in between times people were living and building over the great columns, fantastically, just using them to prop up regular houses. The Delphi Archaeological Museum is below the main ruins and houses the site relics you would expect it to.

Written by  Howard Amble.

Other expert and press reviews

“Archaeological Site of Delphi”

'The pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, was the site of the omphalos, the 'navel of the world'. Blending harmoniously with the superb landscape and charged with sacred meaning, Delphi in the 6th century B.C. was indeed t… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

“The Tholos temple, Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia”

Nestled in the forests of sacred Mt. Parnassus are the ruins of Delphi, the supreme oracle site of the ancient Mediterranean. Archaic legends mention a holy place of the earth goddess Gaia, whose shrine was guarded by her daughter, the serpent Python. K… Read more...

Written by  Martin Gray. More about the Tholos Temple from Sacred Sites

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I like Delphi in Greece. I have been to Delphi and I think this is one of the most astonishing ancient sites I have ever seen. For those who are spiritual and love historical places make it in your "To do" list. The main attraction is Apollo temple, which built in the 4th Century BC. The current temple was built around the 6th Century BC. It gives you idea of how the site would have looked like in the past.

Then stadium and theater are also well preserved and maintained. The stadium was modernized by the Romans and the theater is also from the 4th Century BC.

Delphi

In ancient times, the city of Delphi was the seat of the most important of the Greek oracles and was home to the omphalos stone, supposedly the centre of the universe. It was also home to the Temple of Delphic Apollo, dating from the 4th century BC, the ruins of which are visible today.

Delphi's use for worship dates from prehistoric times when it was used to honour Gaia.

In 1893 large quantities of soil from numerous landslides were removed to begin the unearthing of the city. Four areas of the site have been reconstructed, among them the Treasury of the Athenians and the Temple of Apollo. Delphi's stadium, theatre, gymnasium, springs and several temples are on view in various states of ruin. The majority of finds from the dig are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.

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