What to see in Greece

Delphi

Tourist attractions Delphi

Considered the centre of the Ancient Greek world, Delphi holds a special place in the imagination of anyone with an interest in the culture and beliefs of ancient Greece. Believed to be the meeting place of heaven and earth, ancient Greeks would travel to Delphi to have their pertinent questions answered by the priestess, or ‘Pythia’. The Pythia was able to channel the spirit of the Greek god Apollo, an experience known as ‘consulting the Oracle’ one of the most mysterious and intriguing aspects of the belief systems of Ancient Greece. Even today, travellers visit Delphi to encounter its unique spiritual atmosphere in the hope of gaining clarity during pivotal moments in their lives. 

Perched on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, overlooking the Gulf of Corinth, the Sanctuary of Delphi was first excavated in 1880 and over the years this vast complex of temples, treasuries, altars and amphitheatres have been uncovered to reveal one of the most enchanting and mysterious ancient Greek archaeological sites.

Today, the Sanctuary of Delphi is considered the second most important archaeological site in Greece after the Acropolis, and visiting Delphi is a popular day trip from Athens, around 100 miles away. The modern town of Delphi, just adjacent to the ruins, offers overnight accommodation and plenty of authentic Greek charm.

Things to see in Delphi

There are plenty of things to see within the ruined Sanctuary of Delphi. Follow the path along the ‘Sacred Way’, the main thoroughfare, to explore its impressive ruins. The Temple of Apollo is the most important thing to see in Delphi. A Doric-style temple at the centre of the site, this was the place where the Pythia would share her prophecies after consulting the Oracle. Dating back to the 4th-century BC, the temple is in honour of Apollo, the god of healing, harmony, light and music. A trip to Delphi is incomplete without contemplating the ancient magic and mysterious atmosphere of the Temple of Apollo whilst admiring the captivating views of the surrounding mountains from the ruins.

Just a few steps above the Temple of Apollo stands the Ancient Theatre, dating from the same period. In its heyday, this huge amphitheatre could hold up to 5000 spectators. Most notably, the Ancient Theatre of Delphi played an important role in the Pythian Games, held every four years in honour of the god Apollo and one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece. The nearby Gymnasium would have been where the athletes trained before their events. With brilliant views across the sanctuary, this is the best place to snap a photo of the archaeological site. 

Another of the unmissable things to see in Delphi is the Sanctuary of Athena Pronea, home of the Tholos, a circular structure, supported by 20 Doric columns. Here, visitors can admire the beautiful marble carvings, portraying scenes of mythical battles against Amazones and Centaurs. Despite the unique structure and intricate decorations, the original function of the Tholos remains a mystery. 

Finally, if you travel to Delphi, be sure to visit the Delphi Archaeological Museum, one of the best museums in Greece and located between the modern town of Delphi and the mountainside ruins. If you want to understand more about the significance of this site, a visit to the Archaeological Museum is one of the best things to do in Delphi. Founded in 1903, the museum houses a rich array of treasures excavated from the Sanctuary of Delphi. Highlights of the collection include the magnificent Charioteer of Delphi sculpture, the Sphinx of Naxos and the impressive Siphnian Treasury frieze. You can also view a reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Delphi to discover how the site would have looked in its former glory. 

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