Delphi is an important archeological site of Greece, surrounded by scenic mountains and so rich in myths and history that every traveler should want to add Delphi to his or her itinerary. It is situated at the foot of Mount Parnassos in a spectacular landscape. It cozily lies between the angles formed by Phaedriadess twin rocks.
The town is built on the slopes of Mount Parnassos on the edge of a cliff and the ancient site is as awe inspiring as it was 3,000 years ago.
It overlooks the Gulf of Corinth and a valley filled with olive and cypress trees.
In ancient times, Delphi was regarded as the center of the world, because according to Greek mythology, it is here that the two eagles released by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world met.
Sanctuary of Athena in Delphi
It was considered the place where heaven and earth met and the only place on earth where man was closest to God.
For many centuries, Delphi was the symbol of unity, and the cultural and religious center of the Hellenic world.
A Little Bit of History of Delphi
Delphi’s history begins in prehistory and in the myths of ancient Greece. According to the mythology, the site was sacred to Mother Earth and the terrible serpent Python stood guard to it.
The Python was later killed by Apollo and his sanctuary was built here by Cretans who arrived at Kirrha, Delphi’s port, with the god in the form of a dolphin.
This myth was enacted in plays that were presented during the Delphi festivals.
Small settlements were found in Delphi since Mycenaean times that indicate that the people were dedicated to the deities of Mother Earth, Themis, Demeter and Poseidon.
The worship of Apollo as the god of light, order and harmony was established between the 11th and 9th centuries. By the end of the Mycenaean period Apollo had replaced the other deities and had become the guardian of oracle.
This sanctuary grew very much in importance and size over the next five centuries.
However, Delphi became most famous for the Oracular powers of Pythia the priestess who foretold the future.
The Mediterranean people had so much faith in Pythia’s views of the future that they made no major decisions without consulting the Oracle of Delphi.
The Oracle would usually be an older woman selected from the villages around the sanctuary. She would sit on a chair over an opening in the ground and would inhale whatever was coming out from the opening (there are countless debates raging over whether it was a gas known to cause trance-like states).
She would conduct rituals and would fall into a trance-like state and would speak in fast to the priests of the priests of the sanctuary who would interpret whatever she was saying.
The sanctuary of Delphi was part of the Amphictyonia from the 7th century BC until the 4th century BC and the alliance protected the site from invaders and the Phocians.
Temple of Apollo and the Theater in Delphi
In 356 BC, the Phocians joined hands with the Athenians and the Spartans captured the sanctuary of Delphi. They were in desperate need to finance their war, so they stripped the offerings from the temples.
They were in control of the sanctuary until King Philip of Macedon liberated it. Philip defeated the combined force of Athenians and Spartans and became the dominant force in Greek affairs.
However, the sanctuary was taken by the Romans in 191 BC and General Sylla stripped the temple of its treasures in 86 BC, in order to finance the siege of Athens.
Three years later Thracian Maedi extinguished the sacred fire that had been burning uninterrupted for centuries and razed Delphi.
Even though the Romans revived the building, Oracle of Delphi lost its influence over the next few centuries and the worship of Apollo was replaced by a new religion, Christianity.
To commemorate the triumph of Apollo over Python the sanctuary organized the Pythian Games every four years. The athletic events were much like the Olympics.
Angelos Sikelianos organized a modern version of the Delphic Games in the 20th century.
Delphi is famous for its jewelry, as it is the family business for many people here. Some of them are handmade and you can also find museum copies of jewelry.
Things to See in Delphi
- Delphi Site
- Temple of Apollo
- Sanctuary of Athena
- Delphi Theater
- Delphi Stadium
- Delphi Museum
- Delphi Tholos
- The Charioteer of Delphi
- The Castelian Spring
- The Sacred Way
Where is Delphi?
- 115.5 miles/ 186 km from Piraeus, Athens, Greece
- 239.8 miles/ 386 km from Corfu, Greece
- 144.1 miles/ 232 km from Meteora, Greece
- 112.4 miles/ 181 km from Athens, Greece
- 126.7 miles/ 204 km from Volos, Greece
- 420 miles/ 676 km from Sofia, Bulgaria
- 150.3 miles/ 242 km from Olympia, Greece
- 74 miles/ 119.09 km from Athens International Airport, Greece
When you visit Delphi, listen with your heart, and you could possibly hear someone or something talking to you.
Maybe all you need is an open mind and heart to hear a voice that had distributed wisdom to mankind for centuries.
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!