Do you recollect your history lectures speaking of the Oracles of Delphi? Yes, this is certainly that sacred city nestled in the terraces of Mount Parnassus in Greece. The name ‘Delphi’ connotes the priestess of ancient Greece, the woman with power, who was in charge of the oracle at Delphi via which she predicted and aided people to solve the problems. She is referred in several tales as dancing and speaking intelligibly. As per a suspicion, a fissure existed beneath the Temple of Apollo here from where gas used to come out to form this state. The priestess used to be in a special chamber where some hallucinogenic gas used to bring her in vision.
Her Oracles greatly inspired the God Apollo from 8th century BC until the 1st century AD. Considered as the Earth’s center by the ancient Greeks, Apollo started to reside here by first killing a python here, who was protecting the Goddess of Earth called Gaia. Apollo was a domineering deity and therefore, many wealthy edifices and temples were built as a plausible tribute to him.
The ruins that we can see today belong to the 6th Century when Oracle was at its zenith. Among all the relics, the Temple of Apollo is the most well-known sanctuary where the Oracle resided. It is a Doric style columnar temple constructed on the site of former temples that collapsed because of the earthquakes. The Altar of the Chians resides in the temple’s facade, which was built in 5th century BC as per its inscription. Made by the Chios people, it was carved from black marble leaving the cornice as well as the base.
Along the slopes, from the entrance until the temple, statues as well as treasuries were perched as a token of thanks for the oracle for the accurate advice of victories. In fact, this ancient city was very rich that can be seen from the fact that the excavated artifacts are really superb. The figurines and statues were made by the different Greek states. The reason as to why they are termed as ‘treasuries’ is that they contained the offerings to Apollo. Among all, the most stunning is the Athenian Treasury that marked the victory of the Athenians in the Battle of Salamis. Other treasuries are the Siphnian Treasury by the Siphnos city, Sikyonian Treasury, the Boetian Treasury, and the Theban Treasury. Considered as among the largest treasuries, the Argos Treasury was made in the Doric era by the Argives who wanted to build their place here. This treasury seems to be inspired from the Temple of Hera standing proudly in the city’s acropolis.
When you come here, the 4th century BC’s theatre will welcome you as it is the first edifice to be noticed. Being maintained well, it is a typical ancient Greek site with a wonderful backdrop. High above the edge, a stadium resides marking the site of the first precursor of the today’s Olympics. Here, look for an ancient wall that has well survived and is completely coated with the inscriptions giving much information about the ancient life jeer.
The Stoa of the Athenians is in the northeast of the temple, which was constructed in the Ionic style. It holds seven fluted columns and was made by the Athenians to keep the battle trophies following their nautical victory against the Persians in the 5th century BC. Look at its rear wall where there are some 1000 inscriptions written by a slave of Athens.
The Polygonal wall was constructed to back the terrace where the Apollo’s second temple was made in the 6th century BC. It is named so because of the polygonal stonework.
Other edifices include a gymnasium with a stoa and pools, Hippodrome where game events used to take place, the sacred Castalian spring with two fountains, the circular Tholos with the preserved 3 external Doric columns of 20, and the Sibyl Rock between the Athenian stoa and treasury marking the site of Sibyl delivering prophecies.
Today, the city of Delphi is a bit away from its original site. Do not forget to explore The Delphi Archaeological Museum located below the relics housing the artifacts excavated from the site that you would like to see.