Delphi Travel Guide , Greece
Delphi Travel Guide : Delphi is famous for one thing in particular: it is home to the world-famous oracle of Delphi. This oracle was renowned in Ancient Greece, as pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean would visit it to receive the prophecies of the ancient Greek god Apollo. The prophecies were delivered by Apollo through the words of Pythia, the high-priestess of his temple. From the verdant slopes of Parnassus to the sanctuary of Apollo and the oracle of Pythia, Delphi will surpass the expectations of your imagination. Determined from the eagles of Zeus as the navel of earth, Delphi is one o f the most sacred places of Greece perched on the high slopes of Mount Parnassus; indeed, its cultural richness designated it as a World Heritage Site from UNESCO. People would journey here from all over the world to seek wisdom from the oracle of Pythia, a woman that served as the earthly mouthpiece of Apollo. Its was power was s o influential, that n o great leader and warrior would made a major decision without consulting the oracle. So, Delphi served as the religious and spiritual center of ancient civilization that contributed to the cultural development of the entire country. Three of the most mountain massifs of the country interlace on the northern edge of Delphi composing an impressive geophysical canvas. Just a glimpse on the horizon over the silvery olive groves on the craggy slopes of Mount Parnassus, the blue surface of the Corinthian Gulf over the Delphic landscape will illuminate your imagination.
When you feel the special energy emitted on this part of earth, you might even understand the reason the two eagles of Zeus met here; indeed, Delphi was declared as the navel of the earth leaving an eternal legacy to it. The Delphic landscape is of extraordinary natural beauty; observing the huge vastness of the immense olive grove of Amfissa from the endless blue of the Corinthian Gulf to the coast of the Peloponnese, the mountain massifs that rise like castles creating spectacular sceneries of nature in conjunction with the cultural spirit of the oracle. As they say, Delphi is one of the most compelling and sensational sites on this planet, imposed as no one else in the mind of yours. Undeniably, Delphi is considered to be the most wonderful scenery of earth ; the dreamy location high up on the mountains, the shadows of the crystalline blue sky a nd the massiveness of the green leaves of the olives will sparkle your eyes with the brightest colors of earth. The almighty view of the green valley up to the Corinthian Gulf will literally take your breath away. The evocative sceneries, the remote wilderness and the divine spirit of the Delphian landscape attest that Delphi is a cultural and natural monument for your bucket list, a destination you deserve to explore even for once in this life. The genuine colors and the perfect harmony of culture and nature lift in the fantasy world of the Olympian Gods. In Delphi, Greek mythology becomes reality. You might even hear the echoing whispers of millions ambiguous oracles with such a convincing force. Let yourself enter into the magical spirit and the divine atmosphere of the navel of this earth.
Are you ready to discover the mythical magic of Delphi?
Things to do in Delphi
As this destination is not very popular for long holiday stays and mostly for day visits, things to do in Delphi are limited. There are no organized things to do in Delphi. The region is ideal for total relaxation in the countryside and for sightseeing in the archaeological site.
The Archaeological Site of Delphi
The Archaeological Site of Delphi is the famous oracle of Ancient Greece located at the foot of Mount Parnassus. Characterized as the navel of the world, the sanctuary of Delphi is set in one of the most specular landscapes of the country that was chosen from the two eagles sent out from legendary Zeus from the end of the universe to find the navel of earth. Delphi served as the cultural and religious center of the Hellenic world for many centuries, as its history begins from Greek mythology. The sanctuary was constructed from the Cretans who arrived at the port of Kirrha. The earliest findings of Delphi, which include traces of a Mycenaean cemetery and settlement, come from the cave of Korikion Andron that date back to the Neolithic period. The Great Excavation of Delphi began from the French School of Athens in 1891, which uncovered spectacular traces for our knowledge of the life in Ancient Greece. Today, only the Treasury of the Athenians had enough of the original building material preserved while the Chiot Altar, Apollo’s and Athena’s Sanctuaries, Delphi’s Ancient Theatre, the Sacred Way, the Gymnasium of Delphi, and the Tholos of Athena Pronaia have been partially restored.
The archaeological site of Delphi includes two sanctuaries, dedicated to Apollo and Athena, and other buildings, mostly intended for sports. Visitors arriving from Athens first encountered the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia – that is, Athena who is before the temple of Apollo. Outside its walls spread the settlement of Delphi. Within the walls were the famous Tholos, the symbol of Delphi today, and the remains of three temples dedicated to the goddess. The two earlier temples were built of tufa on the same location. These date to the middle of the seventh century and to c. 500 BC. The third temple, made of limestone, was built at the west end of the sanctuary after the earthquake of 373 BC. This sanctuary also includes the altars of Zeus Polieus, Athena Ergane, Athena Zosteria, Eileithyia and Hygeia, the remains of two buildings dedicated to the cult of the local heroes Phylakos and Autonos, who routed the Persians from Delphi, and two treasuries with marble roofs, one Doric and the other Aeolian. The Aeolian Treasury of Massalia preserves a characteristic palm-leaf capital. Finally, the sanctuary included a memorial to the routing of the Persians, a statue of Emperor Hadrian, and a building known as the “house of the priests”.
To the northwest of the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia lay the gymnasium, a place for exercise and learning, the palaestra and the baths. Further up the slope was the Castalian spring, the sacred spring of Delphi, were travellers quenched their thirst after a long voyage and purified themselves before consulting the oracle. The central, most important part of the site was the sanctuary of Apollo, which was surrounded by the usual peribolos, or enclosure wall, with a main gate at its southeast corner. From here visitors entered the Sacred Way, the street that led to the temple of Apollo with its famous adyton, where Pythia delivered her oracles. With the temple and the Sacred Way as its centre, the sanctuary grew larger, spreading over artificial terraces supported by monumental walls, bordered by porticoes (of Attalus, of the Aetolians, of the Athenians) and accessed through corresponding gates in the enclosure wall.
Scattered among these buildings and along the Sacred Way were numerous votive monuments dedicated by Greek cities or wealthy individuals on the occasion of socio-political events, or simply to express gratitude to the god and his oracle. These monuments are representative of artistic achievement from the East to the coasts of the Mediterranean and indicate the wealth of their patrons. They vary from bronze and silver tripods (one of the oracle’s symbols) to complex groups of sculptures in bronze or marble.
The luxurious and impressive, however small, votive buildings known as treasuries were used for storing smaller votive offerings, but above all for displaying the art and splendour of the city which commissioned them. The imposing temple of Apollo dominated the sanctuary from atop a large terrace supported by a remarkable polygonal wall. In front of its entrance visitors could admire a series of impressive votive monuments dedicated mostly by wealthy individuals. Above the temple is the theatre where the theatrical and musical contests of the Pythian Games took place, while even higher up the slope, beyond the sacred enclosure, lies the stadium where the athletic contests were held. Outside and around the two sanctuaries are the remains of the settlement and cemeteries of Delphi, which developed mainly in the Classical and Roman period.
The Temple of Apollo
The temple of Apollo, the most important building in the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, dominates the temenos from its central position. This is where the statues and other offerings to the god were kept, and where the cult rituals, including that of divination, took place. Also, here was the chresmographeion, or archive, destroyed in 373 BC, which contained the lists of victors of the Pythian games. According to the legend, the first temple of Apollo at Delphi was made of laurel branches, the second of beeswax and feathers, and the third of bronze, while the fourth was built by the legendary architects Trofonios and Agamedes aided by Apollo himself. This was probably the stone temple destroyed by fire in 548 BC. Its replacement, built with contributions by both Greeks and non-Greeks, was completed around 510 BC by the Alkmaeonid family of Athens. This was a Doric peristyle temple, with six columns at the end and fifteen at the sides. Stone-built and marble-clad, it was sumptuously decorated with sculptures by the famous artist Antenor. The east pediment depicted Apollo’s epiphany when he arrived at Delphi with his sister Artemis and his mother Leto; the chariot of the gods occupied the centre of the scene and was framed by male and female figures. Of the west pediment, which depicted the Gigantomachy, only the figures of Athena, a fallen giant, a male figure and two horses have survived.
This temple was destroyed by earthquake in 373 BC. The existing temple, also built with Greek contributions, was not completed until after the Third Sacred War, in 330 BC. This imposing Doric temple was raised by the architects Spintharos from Corinth, Xenodoros and Agathon. It has the same plan and roughly the same dimensions as its predecessor, with six columns at the end and fifteen at the sides, and both prodomos and opisthodomos in antis. The cella was divided into three naves by two colonnades of eight Ionic columns each. The divination ceremony took place in the adyton, or inner shrine, an underground chamber where only the priests interpreting Pythia’s words had access. The pedimental sculptures of Parian marble are the work of the Athenian sculptors Praxias and Androsthenes. The east pediment depicted Apollo and the Muses, and the west Dionysus and the Maenads. Little is known of the arrangement of the temple’s interior; ancient writers mention that the walls of the pronaos were inscribed with aphorisms of the seven sages, such as ‘know thyself’, ‘everything in moderation’ and the letter E. There was a bronze effigy of Homer and an altar of Poseidon, and, in the adyton, a statue of Apollo and the omphalos. The temple has been partially restored. Fragments of the pedimental sculptures of both the Archaic and the Classical /Hellenistic temple are displayed in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
Archaeological research in Delphi
Archaeological researches in Delphi began in 1860 by Germans. In 1891, the Greek government granted the French School at Athens permission for long-term excavations on the site. It is then that the village of Kastri was removed to allow for the so-called “Great Excavation’ to take place. The Great Excavation uncovered spectacular remains, including about three thousand inscriptions of great importance for our knowledge of public life in ancient Greece. Today, the Greek Archaeological Service and the French School at Athens continue to research, excavate and conserve the two Delphic sanctuaries. Of all the monuments, only the Treasury of the Athenians had enough of its original building material preserved to allow for its almost complete reconstruction. The project was financed by the City of Athens and carried through by the French School in 1903-1906. The Chiot altar, the Temple of Apollo and the Tholos were also partially restored. In 1927 and 1930, the poet Angelos Sikelianos and his wife, Eva, attempted to revive the Delphic idea and make of Delphi a new cultural centre of the earth, through a series of events that included performances of ancient theatre.
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi is one of the most important archaeological museums of Greece located adjacent to the archaeological site. The permanent exhibition of the museum covers a history of one thousand years, from the Mycenaean era to the Greco Roman times, accommodating one of the most valuable collections of ancient Greek art. The museum focuses on the history of the Delphi Oracle from the prehistoric times. Its rich collections comprise from statues, objects and sculptures found within the sanctuary that reflect to the artistic, political and religious activities from its early years in the 8 century BC to its decline in Late Antiquity. The highlights of the museum include the Charioteer Statue, a masterpiece of bronze classical art, the omphalos, the sacred symbol of Delphi, and the Naxian Sphinx, a colossal statue.
Delphi Travel Guide : Not to Miss
255 km Ultra-marathon of Delphi
Are you an aspiring athlete who wants to test his limits? The Pheidippides Run, Delphi to Ancient Olympia, takes place every Mary. The race is 255 kilometers with 48 hours time limit and the route consists dirt roads, forests roads and footpaths along with asphalt roads. The mountainous part of the route reached an altitude of 1.100 meters, a positive ascent of 4.500 meters and a negative ascent of 5.100 meters.
Events & Festivals
- Every 6 of January, the Epiphany Festival takes place in the village of Itea, which is observed from the sanctification of the water by casting the Holy Crosse into the sea under the psalms of the priests. Every February or March, the Carnival of Amfissa takes place in the town of Amfissa. The carnival includes a typical march of the chariots and the burning of the Carnival King and ends with the stichia of Harmena, a crowd of black torchbearers dragging chains around the city.
- Every Clean Monday, the Custom of Alevromoutzouromata takes place in the naval town of Galaxidi. The event denotes is held for the celebration o f the end of the carnival period where residents and visitors congregate to hurl tons of colored flour to one another.
- Easter in Fokida is one of the most traditional character celebration of this holy celebration, where lambs cooking in potholes followed from traditional songs and dances take place in every single town and village of the prefecture.
- Every summer, the Nautical Week takes place in the town of Itea. The festival includes numerous athletic and cultural events for a period of one week.
- Every June, the Feast of Trata Fish t akes place in the village of Eratini. During the feast, sardines and wine are offered to the visitors while music groups give rhythm to the event.
- Every July, the Forest Sounds Festival takes place in the village of Kaloskopi. The festival includes musical concerts for a period of three days.
- Every August, the Wine Festival takes place in the village of Gravia.
- Every August, the Makrigiannia Festival takes place in the village of Krokilio. The festival is held in honor of the homonymous 1821 Revolution hero whose homeland was the village of Krokilio. The festival includes cultural and musical special events for a period of five days.
- Every 6 of September, the traditional celebration in honor of the Archangels takes place in the village of Panourgias. According to tradition, the church of the Archangel Michael was built to honor the saint after a miraculous spring of the wider area gushed water from some Christians Orthodox. Although the pagans tried to destroy the church and kill the priest, Archangel Michael intervened and teared the land into two pieces. The festival of Panourgias is famous for its traditional celebrations.
- Every two years, cultural events are organized in Delphi from the European Cultural Center of Delphi. The festival includes a series of events including ancient tragedies, musical concerts and theatrical performances. The majority of the events take place in the ancient theater of Delphi.
Read more on Greece Cultural Events
Carnivals and Legends: Night of Ghosts in Amfissa
Dressed like fairies, ghosts and tanners, the townspeople pay homage to a decade-old tragic love story in the district of Harmena in the mountainous town of Amfissa. Those legends about ghosts and souls that wander around the city are revived during the last weekend of the Carnival period. Legend has it that there was once a beautiful girl and a handsome man, who were madly in love and planning their future. One day, the girl went to get some water but it soon started raining and the girl could not go back home. She sat under a tree and waited, until she got struck by lighting and died. When her fiancé found out, he was so much in pain that the neighbors found him dead the next day. However, the church did not accept to burry him became they thought he committed suicide so he was doomed to wander around the town eternally.
Eating and Drinking in Delphi
Apart from its significant history and beautiful land structure, this lovely village in the heart of Greece is the perfect place to get to know authentic Greek living, and there is no better way to do so than tasting the rich Greek traditional cuisine. There are plenty of amazing taverns in the greater area of Delphi where you can sit to have lunch or finish your day with a meal. Most of these taverns are family run and prepare their meals with the utmost respect for Greek tradition. This is a list containing places you should definitely visit during your time in Delphi for a delicious Greek meal. A long, sun-filled day of sightseeing and exploring the ancient ruins definitely calls for finding a place to relax, enjoy the astonishing view and rewarding yourself with a delicious meal. Delphi certainly offers a great variety of taverns and restaurants to do just that.
- Vakhos (directions) is situated on the highest spot of Delphi’s central road and that’s why its view of the Corinthian sea is unmatched. The Theodorakis family, who own and operate the tavern, are always eager to welcome you and recommend their best dishes of the day. All the recipes are traditional Greek ones, giving the best of the local ingredients that the area has to offer. Here you can taste fresh salads with greens and chickling vetches, saganaki made out of local cheese, dolmades, pies, soups, rooster with fresh pasta, and many other dishes that honour the seasonal and local character of the Greek cuisine. The father of the family collects fresh veggies daily, which are boiled and served as a salad, and it’s a dish you most definitely should not miss.
- To Patriko Mas (directions) ( which translates to Our Family House) is another excellent choice for lunch or dinner. Located in a very lovely site, it is an excellent choice to enjoy your meal and take in the amazing view or watch a breathtaking sunset. Freshly made salads, pies and main dishes that combine Greek and European cuisine will surely satisfy the tummies of all members of your group.
- Cafe Melopoleio (directions) (meaning the Spot that sells honey) is in a different part of Delphi where you can choose to start and finish your day at. In the morning you can enjoy fresh juices, Greek yoghurt with fruit and cheese pies or just a plain Greek coffee or tea from Mount Parnassus. During the day they serve beautifully prepared sandwiches you can enjoy on the go and in the evening you can return to relax with a glass of Greek wine or beer while listening to quality music.
- Fourlas (directions) : In the traditional village of Chrisso which sits minutes away from Delphi, there is a taverna called Fourlas. Here one is able to indulge in the most traditional dishes this area has to offer, including roasted and charcoaled meats, homemade pies, fresh salads and cheese. All of this is accompanied by a wonderful view overlooking the Corinthian bay. It is open daily for lunch and dinner and no reservation is needed.
- Harmena (directions) is a restaurant in the centre of the area surrounded by stone brick roads and ruins of old leather factories, and it takes its name from a traditional neighbourhood situated in the upper part of Amfissa. Here one can enjoy different time-honoured meat plates such as souvlaki and steaks, appetizers, fresh cut fries and Greek salads with plenty of olives and feta cheese. It is open from early in the morning, serving Greek coffee and traditional spoon sweets, lunch and dinner. On your way out you can also pick up local extra virgin olive oil and olives from Amfissa or some wine and tsipouro (a strong distilled vodka-like spirit).