Of my ten-day Greece itinerary, Delphi was the destination I was looking forward to the most, and it did not disappoint! Here at the "Navel of the World," visitors can walk the gravel path up the slopes of Mount Parnassus, where the Temple of Apollo is nestled away as one of the most important religious centers of the time. Of course, those walking amongst the ruins must visit the site of the legendary Oracle of Delphi.
Join me as I take you through my road trip through Greece (in five parts):
- Meteora (with a bonus stop at Thermopylae)
- Delphi (with a bonus stop at Arachova)
After visiting Meteora, I hopped on the bus and headed south to Delphi. Before visiting, I didn't know much about it other than the little I read about in Greek mythology and what was on my itinerary. However, I did know that it was the site of the mythical Oracle.
The Oracle - also known as the Pythia - was a highly sought woman consulted on various matters. A petitioner could seek out the Oracle to see if they should marry so-and-so or a king who needed guidance if he should go to war.
To obtain the answer, the Pythia would sit on a tripod chair where she'd inhale light hydrocarbon gasses that escaped from a chasm in the ground, falling into a trance as the priests relayed the questions to her.
Arriving at Delphi
The UNESCO site of Delphi is split into two parts due to the road. On one side (up the hill), visitors will find the:
The Museum of Delphi is gorgeous and houses some of the best-preserved artifacts, covering the Mycenaean era to the Greco-Roman times.
Highlights I highly recommend:
- The Sphinx of Naxos
- The Kouros Statues
- The omphalos
- The Charioteer of Delphi
- First Delphic Hymn
If you are considering visiting Delphi, I highly recommend not skipping the museum, as it's the safe house that preserves the rich history found in the area (including the supposed stone that Zeus dropped to mark Delphi.) For those who are also music lovers, the museum also holds the First Delphic Hymn, the earliest surviving example of notated music with the composer known by name.
Temple of Apollo
This is where the oracle gave her prophetic words to patrons and is located along the Sacred Way. It's believed that along the path, pilgrims would walk amongst statues lining the pathway and various offerings left.
Theatre & Stadium
These are separate buildings located further up the Sacred Path after visiting the Temple of Apollo.
This is a part of the site I didn't have time to see and regret as I know the Legend behind the spring. However, I saw it on the bus, so it counts.
The Castalia spring is a natural spring and is the location where the Pythia and priests came to wash and receive prophecies. When it comes to mythology, stories vary. According to one story, this is the spring where Apollo transformed Castalia - a nymph he was pursuing - into a fountain. It's believed that those who drank from those waters would be given the genius of poetry. However, other stories state that Castalia threw herself into a well to escape from Apollo, thus creating the spring.
Visitors may recognize Tholos, a circular building dedicated to the goddess Athena (down the hill and on the other side of the road).
Fun Facts About Delphi
- The center of the world was believed to be at Delphi, according to Greek mythology. One day, Zeus sent one eagle east and another west, and when they met, the site of Delphi was created. To mark the spot, Zeus dropped a sacred stone called the omphalos (meaning 'navel'). Hence, the meaning 'Navel of the World.'
- Artifacts around Delphi can be dated as far back as 4000 B.C.
- Young and beautiful virgins were considered the ideal vessels to serve as the Phythia. However, after cases of rape, runaways, and being violated, women of at least 50 started filling the role.
Bonus Stop: Arachova
We opted to stay in a nearby town, closer to Delphi: Arachova, known as a popular ski resort with breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.
Arachova is a quant town and can be easily enjoyed by walking the main street.
Visitors can find shops with local produce, art, and restaurants along the main drag. It's where I found a pound of giant beans I purchased and brought home to make Gigantes Plaki (Giant Beans)! However, if you want to enjoy the ambiance of Arachova, I recommend walking along the sidewalk to see the sunset behind the clock tower.
Want to See More of Greece?
If you enjoyed the first part of my tour through Greece, follow me to read about the next destination: Olympia. If you are more of a foodie, check out my previous article recommending what Greek Food to eat while in Greece! Or, check out Part 1, that talks about Athens, or Part 2, about Meteora.
Contributions to the Karma Jar are always appreciated as I save every penny, Euro, pound, and krona I can to put toward my next adventure to write about!
About the Creator
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You can find all of my articles on my blog as well on Medium where I'm most active in Humor, Lifestyle, and Travel. I've self-published one fantasy fiction with the sequel in the works.