Our last stop on the Peloponnese Road Trip was in the majestic town of Delphi. Situated in the mountains the views are stunning and well worth a trip. Oh, in case you had any doubt, the gyros are awesome!
The Archaeological Site
The first divinity to be worshipped in Delphi, Ge (Earth), correlates with the remains of a Mycenaean building found on the slopes of the hill. The arrival of the cult of Apollo and the role of the Oracle during the second period of colonization in the 8th Century B.C. led to the recognition of Delphi by Homer as a wealthy religious site.
To the south is the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia but the gem of the site is the Sanctuary of Apollo and the ambling road called the Sacred Way.
The Omphalos of Delphi
According to legend, Zeus released two golden eagles in different directions. When the birds met Zeus threw down the Omphalos which landed in Delphi. The stone, along with the sacred tripod and the prophetic laurel were in the Dayton of the Temple of Apollo, where the Pythia pronounced her oracles. Beneath the Omphalos was the tomb of Python, the son of the first prophetess Gaia, or that of Dionysus, the sanctuary’s second most important god.
The Treasury of the Athenians
The Greek City- states built Treasuries which were small, temple-shaped buildings dedicated to the Gods at sanctuaries. The Treasury of the Athenians is the only intact example. Dedicated to Apollo Pythios by the Athenian citizens; it commemorated either the establishment of Democracy in the city-state of Athens following the collapse of the Peisistratid tyranny (510 BC) or the Athenian victory against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC).
The Stoa of the Athenians
The 30m long structure housed the trophies from the Athenian’s naval victories, built between 510 and 470 BC.
The Temple of Apollo
The temple occupies the most important and prominent position in the Delphic sanctuary. The third and final temple built on the site is from the 4th Century BC.
The best preserved monument at Delphi is the theatre which hosted musical and dramatic contests during the Pythian games and other religious festivals. It overlooks the valley of the Pleistos river. First built in the 4th century BC the current form is based on the Early Roman period 1 AD with a seating capacity of 5000 people.
The athletic contests of the Pythian religious festival were a major event during the five day ceremony. Built in the 5th century BC; the stadium is three quarters up the hill on a now level plateau/outcropping. Spectators sat on the ground until the Emperor Hadrian and the wealthy Athenian Herodes Atticus built seating and a monumental three-arched entrance in the 2nd century AD.
The Pan-Hellenic Pythian games were second in importance only to the Olympic Games. The Pythian winners received a palm tree twig or a wreath of laurels. The Hoplite race was the final contest of the games where athletes wearing a helmet, greaves and carrying a shield would run a ~700m sprint.
The Gods Vs the Giants
The Walk Home
Leaving the Museum there is a marble sarcophagus on the steps that is from the area around the Temple of Athena. The figure on top, originally a female was modified to be a male, a common practice to save money. The griffon on the side was quite impressive.
Delphi is an idyllic little community full of shops and restaurants. I enjoyed a couple of great runs although road running is not a safe practice as the roads have no shoulders and no rails … and it is a long way down.
The Archaeological site is well laid out and a must see if you visit Greece. I enjoyed it more than Olympia but not as much as Ancient Messene.