- Location: 180 km northwest of Athens on Parnassos hills
- Best time to Visit: Throughout the year.
- Preferred timings: Daytime
- How to reach: By road from Athens
- Nearest Railway Station: Athens
- Nearest International Airport: Athens Ben Epps Airport
- The time required for sightseeing: One day
The very mention of Delphi Greece conjures up the picture of the mystic world of ancient Hellenism and myths. What few recognize though, is that it is a great winter destination for ski sports. In winter, in addition to viewing this historic place, you can enjoy skiing in the Parnassos hills. On the lower slopes and through all months of the year you can parasail, trek, or cycle in these hills and adjacent areas. Camping in the wonderful verdant forests of Parnassos is an inexplicable experience. The tradition of sports in Delphi, however, is not a recent one. It goes back to the Pythian Games which were first organized in 11th century B.C.
Delphi in Greece in ancient times was literally considered the ‘center of the world’. In Greek mythology, Zeus released two eagles from two ends of the earth. When these eagles met in the sky they impaled each other with their beaks and fell at the center of the world forming Delphi. This spot is marked by the Omphalos, a conical rock. People over centuries and civilizations have flocked to Delphi for its famous oracles.
Delphi has other interesting anecdotes attached to it. Legend has it that serpent ‘Python’ the son of Greek goddess ‘Gaia’ or ‘Earth’ was the guardian of Castalian Spring in Delphi before being slain by Apollo. ‘Delphi’ literally comes from ‘Delphos’ meaning ‘womb’ in Greek. Before becoming a temple dedicated to Apollo, Delphi was supposedly a temple dedicated to earth goddess ‘Gaia’. After becoming a temple of Apollo, Delphi became famous for its oracles.
Oracles of Delphi
The famed ‘oracles of Delphi’ were imparted in a small chamber called ‘adyton’ inside the temple. ‘Pythia’ or a priestess was only allowed to enter this chamber from where she chanted the oracles while in a trance. She answered the queries in a broken voice which were scripted by a priest and deciphered to the inquirer. The ‘Pytha’ was usually a middle-aged peasant woman specially selected and trained for the purpose of becoming a medium for god’s communication. These oracles were delivered on selected days and under definite circumstances. According to many ancient historians, philosophers, and authors, the ‘Pytha’ received the oracles from a chasm which emitted sweet-smelling vapors.
Delphi the Site
Delphi, a UNESCO world heritage site, is about 180 km from Athens in a northwesterly direction. The Temple of Apollo is the primary attraction of this place. The Sanctuary of Apollo on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus dates back to the 5th century B.C. Follow the ‘Sacred Way’ once lined with statues and treasury buildings to this temple. ‘Treasury of the Athenians’ built around 490 B.C. was the most famous of these treasuries. The walls are scripted with hymns in praise on Apollo. The columns of this ancient edifice were reconstructed by French archaeologists in 1906. And do not forget to collect handwoven materials from Arachova village on your visit to Delphi.
The structure that stands out and attracts your attention is the towering remains of Tholos at the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaiais. Tholos built in 4th century B.C. is a round structure comprising 20 Doric columns and 10 Corinthian half-columns. Three of the 20 Doric columns were restored in 1938. The theater built in the 4th century used for chariot racing in another remarkable ruin.
Related Links :
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=IBeoQI9s63Q: For a general overview of Delphi, including the most popular sites and views you can find at these ancient Greek ruins, watch this slideshow!