Delphi (Greece) is an ancient settlement located on the slope of Mount Parnassus in the southeast of the region of Phocis. This is one of the most valuable cultural heritage of the country, today transformed into an open-air museum. Numerous historical monuments have been preserved on its territory, most of which have been destroyed by earthquakes over the centuries and today are ruins. Nevertheless, Delphi arouse genuine interest among tourists, both among lovers of ancient Greek mythology, and among admirers of ancient history in general.
The ruins of Delph are located 9.5 km from the shores of the Gulf of Corinth, at an altitude of 700 m above sea level. 1.5 km from the ancient settlement is located the miniature town of the same name, whose population does not exceed 3000 people. It is here that all kinds of hotels and restaurants are concentrated, where tourists go after excursions to local attractions. Before describing the iconic objects of the city, it is important to delve into its history, as well as familiarize yourself with mythology.
Historical reference. Mythology
The exact date of the appearance of Delphi is unknown, but archaeological studies conducted on their territory show that since the 16th century BC the place had great religious significance: already at that time a cult of a female deity flourished here, which was considered the mother of the whole Earth. After 500 years, the object fell into complete decline and only to the 7-6 centuries. BC. began to acquire the status of an important sanctuary of ancient Greece. During this period, the oracles of the city had considerable power, participated in solving political and religious issues. By the 5th century BC Delphi turned into the main Greek spiritual center, Pythian games began to be organized in it, which helped to unite the inhabitants of the country and instill in them a sense of national unity.
However, by the 4th century BC Delphi began to lose its former importance, but still continued to be one of the largest Greek sanctuaries. In the first half of the 3rd century BC Greece was attacked by Gauls and completely looted the sacred place, including its main temple. In the 1st century BC the city was captured by the Romans, but this did not stop the Greeks a century later from rebuilding the temple destroyed by the Gauls in Delphi. The final ban on the activity of the Greek oracles came from the Roman emperor Theodosius I only in 394.
Speaking of the ancient Greek city, one cannot but touch on its mythology. It is well known that the Greeks believed in the existence of places on Earth with special power. They also included Delphi. One of the legends says that Zeus from different ends of the planet sent two eagles to meet each other, who crossed and pierced each other with sharp beaks on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. This point was declared by the Navel of the Earth – the center of the world, which has a special energy. So, Delphi appeared, which later became the main ancient Greek sanctuary.
Another myth tells that the city originally belonged to Gaia – the goddess of the Earth and the mother of heaven and sea, who later transferred it to her descendants, one of which was Apollo. Five temples were built in honor of the sun god in Delphi, but fragments of only one of them have survived to this day.
The rich history of the city today is clearly visible in the main attractions of Delphi in Greece. The ruins of several old buildings of great tourist interest have been preserved on the site. In addition, it will be curious to look into the Archaeological Museum, as well as enjoy the picturesque scenery of Mount Parnassus. Let’s consider each object in more detail.
The ancient Greek city of Delphi gained indescribable popularity primarily due to the fragments of the temple of Apollo preserved here. The structure was erected in the 4th century BC, and for 800 years it acted as one of the main ancient Greek shrines. According to the myth, the sun god himself ordered to build this sanctuary, and it was from here that the priestess Pythia made her predictions. Pilgrims from different Greek lands came to the temple and turned to the oracle for instructions. The attraction was found only in 1892 during archaeological excavations. Today, only the foundation and several dilapidated columns remain from the temple of Apollo. Of great interest here is the wall located at the base of the sanctuary: there are numerous inscriptions and sayings of philosophers and politicians facing Apollo.
If you look at the photo of Delphi in Greece, you will notice a lot of ruins and randomly scattered stone blocks that once built the main city structures. Now among them you can see the individual parts of such objects as:
- Theatre. Near the temple of Apollo lie the ruins of an ancient theater in Delphi. The building, dated to the 6th century BC, once totaled 35 rows and was able to accommodate up to 5 thousand people. Today, only the foundation has been preserved from the stage of the theater.
- The ancient stadium. This is another iconic attraction located next to the theater. The stadium once served as the main sports ground where the Pythian Games were held four times a year. At the same time, the building could be visited by up to 6 thousand spectators.
- Temple of Athena. In the photo of the ancient complex you can often see exactly this attraction, which has long become its symbol. The Temple of Athena at Delphi was erected in the 3rd century BC: during the construction, various materials were used, including limestone and marble, which determines the multi-colored appearance of the shrine. At that time, the object was a tholos – a round building in plan, decorated with a colonnade of 20 columns and 10 half-columns. Two millennia ago, the roof of the building was crowned with statues of female figures depicted in a dance. Today, only 3 columns, foundation and steps remained from it.
- Treasury of the Athenians. The attraction was born in the 5th century BC. and became a symbol of the victory of the inhabitants of Athens in the battle of Salamis. The treasury of the Athenians in Delphi was used to store trophies and valuables, among which many objects were dedicated to Apollo. This miniature marble structure has been well preserved to this day. Even today, on the building, you can see bas-reliefs depicting scenes from ancient Greek myths, various paintings and odes to the god Apollo.
- Altar. Opposite the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, you can see a rather valuable attraction – the main altar of the sanctuary. Made entirely of black marble, it recalls the former greatness of the city and its great importance in the history of Greece.
- Address: Delphi 330 54, Greece.
- Opening hours: daily from 08:30 to 19:00. During public holidays, the attraction does not work.
- Entrance fee: 12 € (entry to the archaeological museum is also included in the price).
After exploring the ruins of Delphi, tourists often go to the local museum. This rather compact and informatively saturated gallery tells about the formation of the ancient Greek culture. Among its exhibits are only originals found during archaeological excavations. In the collection you can look at old weapons, uniforms, jewelry and household items. Some exhibits confirm the fact that the Greeks borrowed some Egyptian traditions: in particular, the exhibition shows the Sphinx, executed in the Greek manner.
Here you can see many interesting sculptures and bas-reliefs, and the statue of the Ascendant, cast in bronze in the 5th century BC, deserves special attention. For more than 2 millennia, it lay under the ruins of an ancient complex and only in 1896 was discovered by scientists. At least one hour should be allocated for visiting the museum. In the institution you can take an audio guide in English.
- Address: Delphi Archaeological Museum, Delphi 330 54, Greece.
- Opening hours: daily from 08:30 to 16:00.
- Entrance fee: 12 € (this is a single ticket, including entrance to the open-air museum).
Our description of the sights Delph with a photo ends with a story about a natural object that played a very important role in the ancient world of Greece. We are talking about Mount Parnassus, on the western slope of which Delphi stretches. In Greek myths, it was considered the focus of the Earth. Many tourists visit the mountain to see firsthand the famous Kastalsky spring, which once served as a sacred spring, where the oracles performed bathing rituals, after which they made their predictions.
Today Mount Parnassus is a popular ski resort. In the summer, tourists organize hiking trips here, following marked mountain trails to the Korikiya cave or reaching the highest point – the peak of Liakura (2547 m). Spectacular panoramas of olive groves and surrounding villages open from the top of the mountain, and in clear weather you can see the outlines of Olympus from here. Most of the mountain range is a national park where California spruce grows. On one of the slopes of Parnassus at an altitude of 960 m above sea level, there is a miniature village of Arakhova, famous for its craft workshops where you can buy exclusive handmade rugs.
How to get there
If you decide to visit the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and other ancient attractions, then it will be useful for you to find out how to get to the city. The easiest way to get to the property is from Athens. Delphi are located 182 km northwest of the Greek capital. Every day, KTEL intercity buses leave from the KTEL Bus Station Terminal B city station in a given direction.
The interval of departure of vehicles can vary from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The cost of the trip is 16.40 €, and the journey takes about 3 hours. The exact schedule can be seen on the official website of the company www.ktel-fokidas.gr. It is easy to get to Delphi by a pre-ordered transfer, but in this case you will have to pay at least 100 € for a one-way trip.
- According to the legends of ancient Greece, Mount Parnassus was a favorite resting place among the ancient Greek gods, but Apollo and his 9 nymphs liked the place most of all.
- The area of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was 1,440 m². Inside, it was richly decorated with sculptures of the gods, and outside it was elegantly decorated with 40 columns 12 m high.
- There are allegations that, during her predictions, the priestess Pythia drew inspiration from the vapors coming from rock crevices near the temple of Apollo. During excavations at Delphi in 1892, scientists discovered two deep faults under the shrine, where in turn there were traces of ethane and methane, which, as you know, in certain proportions can cause light dope.
- It is believed that not only the inhabitants of Greece came to the Delph oracles, but also the lords of other lands, who often brought expensive gifts with them. One of the outstanding gifts (even Herodotus in his notes mentions the event after 3 centuries) was the golden throne, presented to the oracle by the Phrygian king. Today, from the throne there is only a miniature ivory statue found in the treasury near the temple.
If you were impressed with the photo Delphi in Greece, and you intend to travel to this ancient complex, pay attention to the list of recommendations below, based on the reviews of tourists who have already visited the property.
- To view the sights of the city will have to overcome steep climbs and unsafe descents. Therefore, it is best to go on a trip to Delphi in comfortable clothes and sports shoes.
- We have already talked about the temple of Athens above, but it should be borne in mind that it is located across the road in an east direction from the main attractions of the complex. Entrance to the ruins of this building is absolutely free.
- Closer to dinner, a large number of tourists gather in Delphi, so it is best to arrive at the place early in the morning for the opening.
- Plan to take at least 2 hours to visit the ancient complex and museum.
- Be sure to bring drinking water with you.
- It is most reasonable to visit Delphi (Greece) in less hot months, such as May, June or October. At the peak of the season, stuffiness and heat can discourage all desire to arrange a tour of the ruins.
Video about traveling to Delphi.