When you are in the Delphi Sacred site, there is an air of awe and respect that comes with the experience. It was called the 'navel of the world" and was indeed the 'centre' of religious unity in the ancient Greek world. This was the site built in the 6th century BC where the oracle of Apollo spoke to Greek Kings and the dignitaries that came from far and wide to be advised on political, religious and moral values .
The layout of Delphi is a unique artistic achievement and has been described as sacred and even magical by some. Mount Parnassus is a masterpiece where a series of monuments were built whose terraces, temples, treasuries, etc. - combine to form a magnificent site which is still intact.
During the Mycenaean period, the female deity of Earth was worshipped in the small settlement of Delphi. The development of the sanctuary and oracle were to begin in the 8th century BC with the establishment of the cult of Apollo.
Monuments to see:
- Temple of Apollo: dated to the 4th century BC, the temple was erected precisely on the remains of an earlier temple of the 6th century BC. Inside was the adyton, the centre of the Delphic oracle and seat of Pythia.
- Treasury of the Athenians: A small building in Doric order, with two columns in antis and rich relief decoration, built by the Athenians at the end of the 6th century BC to house their offerings to Apollo.
- Altar of the Chians: The large altar of the sanctuary, in front of the temple of Apollo, erected by the people of Chios in the 5th century BC, according to an inscription. The monument was made from black marble, apart from the base and cornice in white marble, resulting in an impressive colour contrast.
- Stoa of the Athenians: Built in the Ionic order, has seven fluted columns, each made from a single stone. According to an inscription cut on the stylobate, it was erected by the Athenians after 478 BC, to house the trophies taken in their naval victories over the Persians.
- Theatre: Originally built in the 4th century BC, but the visible ruins date from the Roman imperial period. The cavea had 35 rows of stone benches; the foundations of the skene are preserved on the paved orchestra. The theatre was used mostly for the theatrical performances during the great festivals.
- Tholos: This is a circular building of fine workmanship with a high standard of decorations built around 380 BC.
- Castalian Spring: The preserved remains of two monumental fountains that received the water from the spring in the ravine of the Phaedriades date to the archaic period and the Roman era. The later one is cut in the rock and has niches cut high in the cliff, which probably held the offerings to the Nymph Castalia.
- Stadium: Constructed in the 5th century BC and remodelled in the 2nd century AD at the expense of Herodes Atticus; at this time the stone seats and the arched monumental entrance were added. It was in this Stadium that the Pan-Hellenic Pythian Games took place.
- Polygonal Wall: You will be amazed at the masonry of the perfectly fitting stones used to support the terrace on which the new temple was to be erected. This was built after the destruction of the old temple of Apollo in 548 BC. Many messages are carved into the wall such as "Know Thyself"