Our trip to Delphi was last minute, but thankfully we were able to book two tickets for a bus tour that would pick us up and make the two-hour drive to Delphi super informative. This tour allowed us to see what was outside of Athens, and it was beautiful! The mountains were covered in wildflowers. We drove through a mountain city called Arachova, a popular tourist destination for ski lovers. I really wish our tour included some free time in Arachova. Unfortunately, we were only able to admire the village from inside the bus.
In ancient times, Delphi was believed to be the center of the world. According to Greek Mythology, Zeus sent out two eagles from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world and they met in Delphi. It was the center of worship for the god Apollo and arguably the most important sacred site in the Greek world. People from every corner of the world came to visit the Sanctuary of Apollo to seek guidance from the Oracle at Delphi. Various offerings were given to Apollo from kings, city-states and historical figures, who believed that sending a valuable gift to the sanctuary would ensure the favor of the god. Treasuries were built to house offerings along with a theater and a stadium for chariot races.
The famous oracles were given a small chamber inside the temple. Questions were submitted to the Oracle on a tablet, and the Pythia (priestess) was said to be in a mild trance and spoke for Apollo when giving her answers. It was recorded by ancient authors that the Pythia received her oracles from a chasm in the earth that emitted vapors. A fault line was discovered in the 1980’s, and faults are known to bring gases to the surface of the earth. It is commonly believed now that this is the cause of the spiritual experience and mystical mood surround the oracles of Delphi.
We were given time during the tour to make the climb up to view the theater from above, and the stadium built for Olympic type games and chariot races. We met at the museum later for a tour explaining all of the artifacts found in Delphi.
The museum holds many well-preserved artifacts from ancient times. The Charioteer is one of the best-preserved examples of classical bronze casts. Pictured in the circles below is the Sphinx of Naxos circa 560 BC and a kylix found in a tomb at Delphi with the god Apollo painted on it.
Our final stop on this tour of Delphi was the ruins of the Temple of Pronoia Athena. This was the entry point for all those coming to visit the Sanctuary of Apollo. The shrine was built at the gateway because it was Athena’s duty to protect her half-brother Apollo.
The next day we headed back home totally exhausted, but so grateful for the journey we had just been on. Greece was #1 on my must-visit list and I’m really glad I was able to experience the history and culture of an ancient civilization.