Sanctuary of Apollo – The Holiest Site for the Greeks

Worshipped as early as from 1500 B.C., the Temple of Apollo in ancient Delphi is situated between the captivating scenic surroundings in Central Greece. Considered as the most blessed site in Greece, the sanctuary was the holder of the renowned Oracle in which an inebriated priestess spoke the words of god to direct the people.

Delphi itself was called as the center of the world as according to the Greek mythology, it was here that two released eagles by the God Zeus from opposite the ends gathered in the sky and descended on the ground, the center of the Earth. Therefore, the spot was manifested as the ‘navel stone’ whose Roman is in the Delphi Museum. The entire site is enlisted as World Heritage by UNESCO.
My Visit
My friends, who had already visited, told me that a good map would prove to be very useful on the visit to the ruins of Delphi. This is because the site is quite vast and labeling is quite unclear. I got this map at the entrance and started with my tour from the museum, as before going through the ruins, the collection of valuables will actually help me in imagining the Delphi town as it appeared in its booming past.
I then proceeded to see the sacred Castalian Spring that formed the first spot for the ancient pilgrims heading towards the Temple of Apollo. The spring rises in a gorge of the Phaedriades mountains and it was here where all pilgrims traditionally took the bath to purify themselves prior to the entrance in the temple.
As per the rituals, criminals/murderers had to soak in their full body as against the other people who just need to wash their hair. This site is the most ancient and holy one in the town, which might have been the reason to make it a dwelling place of Apollo. The spring is linked with the chemical vapors coming out from the ground to arouse the Pythia’s oracles and that it fed two fountains seen even today. These fountains include the one with a marbled basin enclosed by benches and a Roman one with slots for votive presents.
Following the ancient path of pilgrims, even today, the visitors pass along the Sacred Way that starts at the site’s southeast and takes you to the Temple of Apollo, which in between holds ancient treasuries and monuments. In the glorious days, the Sacred Way was full of treasury edifices, statues, and votive offerings given by vital cities to express gratitude towards the Oracle for kind advice of success. Among these treasuries and offerings, the most magnificent one is the Treasury of the Athenians of 490 B.C., which was financed by the Athenians who won at the Battle of Marathon after an oracle directing the Athenians to have faith in their wooden walls, which was a reference to their navy. This Doric building having two central columns has a wall of Greek inscriptions including musical hymns for Apollo.
Lastly, I revered the Temple of Apollo dating back to 4th century BC, which actually held six columns on front and 15 on sides. Today, I could see only one full column in the facade and partial five columns. In addition, you can also spot some foundations of the outer arcade and the inner sekos. In reality, this temple was erected on the site of two previous temples out of which the first was ablaze and the second declined due to an earthquake. One can see the first temple’s ancient capitals and wall blocks in a well preserved state and also wall blocks and some sculptures of the second one.
Come here in June when during the summers, the Festival of Delphi is celebrated. You can enjoy the ancient Greek drama and its related works. Tickets and agenda can be taken from the European Cultural Center of Delphi’s Athens office at Plaka.
Best Time to Visit
This is actually spring when there are flourishing almond trees all around. Preferably, come in early morning, lunchtime, and an hour before closing to avoid crowd. The entrance fee is 9€ for museum and site and €6 for either of the two.