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Archaeological Sites
Delphi
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Delphi is located in the Prefecture of Fokida, at Mount Parnassus foothills and between Fedriades rocks. Here lies the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi with its famous Oracle. It constituted a unique spiritual, cultural and religious center that flourished mainly in the 6th century BC. The decline started in the 3rd century BC due to the emerging prevalence of the philosophical movement of Rationalism until it stopped operating in 394 BC when Theodosius the Great ordered the cessation of all ancient sanctuaries. At the course of time the sanctuary was covered by earthworks while an entire village (Kastri) was constructed on the buried remains.

Mythology

Zeus chose Delphi as the main residency of his favorite children, Apollo and Dionysus. This is evident from the Dionysian theater next to the Temple of Apollo. Delphi referred as the earth’s navel! According to tradition, Zeus released two eagles from different parts of the world and they met at the center of the earth. At this spot, the navel was put (a conical stone crowned by two golden eagles).

Short History

The oldest finds that have been spot are of the late Stone Age period (4000 BC). Until the beginning of the Mycenaean period there are no findings, suggesting that the area was uninhabited. From 1500 BC onwards, the Achaeans from Thessaly were settled on the area and organized the first city. From the 8th century onwards the worship of Apollo dominated and the sanctuary began being developed. In the 7th century BC the first temples were erected and the sanctuary started holding an important role in the entire Greek world. Gradually it became the center of the Delphic Amphictyonia (a religious league of 12 tribes). In the 6th century BC the First Sacred War conducted. Delphi enforced its political and religious influence with Crisa and organized the first games known as ‘the Pythian Games’ (586 BC). In the third century BC the area was under the Aetolians who protected Delphi against the Galatians’ invasion (279BC) while in 190 BC the Romans took power on it. The temple stopped operating in 394 AD after the order of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius.

The most severe damages that Delphi suffered were during the Xerxes of Persia invasion, in the 3rd Sacred War (356 BC) when was looted by the Fokeans and in the 86 BC pillage of the Roman general Sulla.

The Archaeological Site of Delphi

Delphi consists of a series of constructions each of which has got a special historical value. The most significant are:

The Temple of Apollo

This is the most important monument of the sanctuary. It housed statues and tributes. In the interior there was the ‘Adyton’, a subterranean chamber where the Pythia gave the oracles.

The Ancient Theatre

It is located at the northwest side of the sanctuary and hosted games of vocal and instrumental music during the Pythian Games.

 

The Ancient Gymnasium

This is a complex that included the gymnasium, the palaestra and the baths.

 

The Ancient Stadium

It is a place where athletic games were held. The Stadium is located northwestern from the Theater, at the highest spot of the Temple.

The Club of the Knidians

It is one of the most important monuments of Delphi both for its architecture and its wall paintings. It was dedicated to Apollo by the Municipality of Knidos, one of the major cities in Asia Minor.

The Treasury of the Athenians

It was located on ‘Iera Odos’ (the Sacred Way) and was one of the most impressive buildings. Here Athenians were keeping their trophies from major battles and the offerings to the Sanctuary.

 

Other buildings of Delphi are: the Treasury of the Sifnians, the Stoa of the Athenians, the Sacred Way, the Tholos of Athena Pronaia, the Castalian fountain and the votive offering of Daochos.

 

Excavations

The first archaeological works in the wider area of Delphi were conducted ​​in 1860 by the Germans. In 1891 the French were given a special permission by the Greek government known as the 'Big Dig' to start more systematic excavations. For the realization of this great idea the village Kastri was evacuated and moved westwards. Today, excavations are still operated in cooperation with the French School and are associated with restoration projects. So far the Treasury of the Athenians, the Altar of the Chians, the Temple of Apollo and the Tholos they have restored.

Further Information

The general admission fee for the archeological site costs 6€ and the reduced costs 3€. There is also a special ticket package valid for the Archaeological Museum and the Temple of Delphi (full: 9€, reduced: 5€).

Tel.: +3(0)2265082313, +3(0)2265082346, Fax: +3(0)2265082966.