THE WORLD´S BEST PLAY!
One of the fascinating experiences that mainland Greece offers is a tour of the Delphi ar-chaeological complex. This magnificent location, located on a steep slope of Mount Parnas-sus, carries a strong energy charge amplified to infinity by the breathtaking vistas of the va-lley it overlooks.
Delphi, one of the most mythical places on the planet, was chosen by the gods as a point of unity between the several universes. And it is in Delphi that the worlds of the gods, the li-ving, and the living, and the living, and the living, and the living, and the living, and the li-ving, and the living, and the living, and the living, and the living, and the living, That is why this fascinating location, which is filled with sanctuaries and temples, generates a great force that can be sensed, breathed, scented, and practically touched. But, most all, this mysterious energy is visible. And the finest spot to contemplate all of this rising force is atop one of the archaeological complex´s highest points. Come with us to the steps of Delphi´s theatre, where we can look down from above on the spot where the world was created according to Greek mythology.
Stone from the same hill on which it stands was used in its construction. The ancient Greeks built the city theatre on a steep hillside in the IV century BC, taking advantage of the slope. While some repairs were required a few centuries after its completion, the work has survived in excellent condition, making it one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in the world.
It has 28 ascending steps in the form of a semicircle that can accommodate around 5,000 people. This large audience came to this theatre to witness shows in the form of musical, dra-matic and lyrical competitions, which were part of the celebrations known as the Pythic Ga-mes. These games were very prestigious and were initially held every eight years, but they began to be held every four years due to their great success. Thus, the Pythian Games could become part of the so-called Four Panhellenic Games, the Olympic Games, the Isthmian Ga-mes and the Nemean Games.
An exquisite mantle of olive trees covers the amazing Cirra Valley, the gorgeous terrain su-rrounding the sanctuary. ¡A unique opportunity to contemplate the place of the world´s beginning! It can be seen from the upper steps of this theatre, as can the archaeological site of Delphi and, above all, the spectacular Cirra Valley.
SHEEP AND GOATS.
One of the things we´ll discover while exploring Greece is how important sheep and goats are in the country´s gastronomy. The excellent lamb meat used in the famed moussakas comes from sheep reared in Greece. The luscious lamb chops are served as a delicacy in many restau-rants in Delphi.
But if sheep are bare in Greek cuisine, so is goats, as both sheep and goats are responsible for the most consumed food in Greece. It can be said that Greek gastronomy revolves around cheese! Cheese! And it is that for the Greeks, cheese is not only a component of appetizers or desserts, but it is a food in itself, and they consume it continuously. Greeks eat cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner and enjoy it either as a stand-alone meal or other ingredients.
The Greek people´s fascination with cheese has a lot to do with the country´s economic history. Greece has never been a wealthy country, and the precariousness of its economy has always been reflected in the everyday food of its citizens. The Greek cuisine used to be quite frugal, and the meat was an expensive product. Hence it was rarely found in the popular diet. As a result, the Greeks needed to discover a less costly yet still nutritional source of protein. They found it in the cheese! And feta cheese is the brightest star in the Greek cheese universe.
Feta cheese can be traced back to Greek mythology. Homer describes how the giant Polythi-mos created feta cheese thousands of years ago in the Odyssey. He did it using a method that is quite similar to the one employed today to make this delicacy.
Feta is a smooth, creamy cheese with small holes with no outer rind. It is usually produced using unpasteurized milk. According to the standards that govern its creation, the milk used must come from sheep. It is also permissible to use a blend of sheep´s and goat´s milk, but goat´s milk must not account for more than 30% of the total. Sheep and goats are the essences of feta, livestock that graze local herbs and shrubs in Greece and give the cheese its distinct flavour and perfume.
Make sure to try any of the gifts of Greek cattle in Delphi, such as succulent lamb chops and excellent feta cheese.
AN UNFORGETTABLE MEMORY
I was there! Touring the ruins of Delphi is already a sensational plan in itself. Still, if we also complement this magical experience by visiting its Archaeological Museum, the result will already be tremendously exciting. And as a culmination to such a great plan, we invite you to get a souvenir of this visit so that you can take with you forever a part of Greek culture—one of those memories that make them think when they see it at home.
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi is located halfway between the archaeological com-plex and the town. It is a two-storey building with an exhibition divided into fourteen rooms arranged in chronological order and occupying 2,270 square metres. The museum facilities are complemented by a cafeteria and a gift shop, where you will have the opportunity to get that memory.
The museum has one of the richest archaeological collections in the country, and visiting it is the finishing touch to a tour of Classical Greece. It exhibits numerous objects and monuments found by archaeologists during different excavation work carried out in Delphi. In addition to sculptures and other works of art, multiple smaller objects are exhibited that were dona-tions made by believers to the Oracle of Delphi, which tells us about the great importance of this sanctuary in ancient times.
Within the treasures exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, we will find decora-tive elements of monuments, such as metopes and friezes, also different votive offerings, which were offerings to the gods found behind the rock of Sibyl, and even a Hellenic copy of the omphallus. But above all, we will see many works of art! There are statues as beautiful as the Twins of Argos, the Sphinx of Naxos, the figure of Antinous and the Dancers of Delphi. Special mention deserves the Treasure of the Thessalians; a sculptural group made up of nine marble statues donated to the Sanctuary of Delphi by Daoco II, Tetrarch of Thessaly. Eight of these statues represent relatives of Daoco, and the ninth, the god Apollo. His work is attri-buted to Lysippos, and they are dated at the end of the 4th century before Christ.
But the true protagonist of the museum is the famous Charioteer of Delphi. This beautiful life-size bronze monument was part of an impressive sculptural ensemble of four horses, the chariot and the charioteer. Only a few remains of one of the horses and, fortunately, the al-most complete imposing and serene charioteer remain.
Do not hesitate to visit the shop of this museum to be able to acquire a small treasure that will remind you, for life, of this exciting visit to the religious centre of Hellenic culture. How about a book about the sanctuary.?
Archaeological Museum of Delphi / Delphi Archaeological Museum
Delphi 330 54, Greece
THE WORLD´S LEADING CITY IN THE ENERGY SECTOR.
Delphi has numerous locations where we can take spectacular photographs because of the magical enclave in which the archaeological complex is located and all the mysterious remains we will find. But inside the sanctuary, there is a specific location that is tremendously special because it marks the exact place where the world was born according to Greek mythology. And it is not every day that the particular site where our world began is visited or photogra-phed! This location, marked by an egg-shaped stone called an omphallus, is an ideal place to pose for an unforgettable photograph.
According to mythology, the god Apollo and the goddess Athena had a discussion trying to reach an agreement to decide where exactly the place where the world was born was located, or what is the same, where the centre of the universe was and is that Apollo wanted to build a temple right on that location. To help them in the discussion, the god Zeus, father of the gods, made two eagles fly, and each one began its flight from one end of the universe. Thus, the point at which the flights of both birds crossed would indicate the exact location of the world´s origin. That crossing of flights took place on the slope of Mount Parnassus, and Zeus marked that specific point on earth with an egg-shaped stone. This stone received the name of omphalos, which in Greek means "navel".
You will be able to locate that specific point without any difficulty since it is on the path that leads to the Temple of Apollo, so it is a place of obligatory passage in the sanctuary. The sto-ne that currently marks the navel of the world is a simple egg-shaped stone with a flat base. It totally lacks any ornamentation since the important thing is the location it keeps.
It is believed that the original omphallus with which Zeus pointed to the navel of the world was placed inside the Temple of Apollo and remained there for many centuries. Over time, the Hellenes made a replica of the original omphallus. The reproduction is a conical marble block shaped like a half egg on which knots and braids have been carved that symbolize the center of the world. We can enjoy this copy in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.
Take advantage of your tour of Delphi to immortalize, through a photograph, the moment of your visit to the energetic navel of the world!
A VERY FEMININE ORACLE
After this slope of Mount Parnassus was chosen as the origin of the world, Apollo´s god had a temple built on it in his name. But it would not be just any temple; it would be much more! And it is that the god Apollo wanted his sanctuary, in addition to being a place for prayer, also to be an oracle. And the thing is… is there a better place to divine the secrets of the futu-re than the energetic navel of the world?
The Temple of Apollo was the most important sacred building in the entire sanctuary of Del-phi. In the fourth century before Christ, it was erected as a robust building with six columns on the front and fifteen on the sides. Of this great work, only a few vestiges are currently preserved. Unfortunately, its most important part is not found. The adyton was an un-derground chamber of the Temple of Apollo in which the true omphalos was maintained. But even if we can no longer visit this chamber, we are going to immerse ourselves in a ceremony of the Oracle of Delphi! Deposited by Zeus and in which the divination ceremonies of the future were held through the oracle.
The adyton was located in the underground part of the western wing of the Temple of Apo-llo. It was a large room built underground. In it, the divination process of the Pythia, who was the priestess of Apollo, was carried out. These divinatory processes took place through private ceremonies to which only the participants in the ritual had access.
Initially, these ceremonies were held only on the 7th of each month, as that day was conside-red the birth of Apollo. Still, the traditions became daily due to the great demand of pilgrims who travelled to Delphi to request the oracle´s divinatory services. And, although there were more oracles in Greece, the one at Delphi was at the origin of the universe!
The Pythia was the priestess through whom the gods answered the questions posed by pil-grims to the oracle. This Pythoness was chosen among the virgin women of Delphi. Once se-lected, she had to commit to living in the sanctuary for her entire life.
Pilgrims were purified with divine water upon arrival at the sanctuary and had to pay fees based on their purchasing power. At the beginning of the divination ceremony, the Pythoness received the pilgrim in the adyton next to the original omphallus. The consultant made the queries, and the Pythia answered them through the gods, pronouncing an oracle that the priests had to interpret and transcribe. At the end of the ceremony, these transcribed answers were given to the pilgrim.
Although you can no longer visit the adyton, we can guarantee you that the immense energy charge left on this planet by the Oracle of Delphi may still be felt on the ruins of the Temple of Apollo.
DISCOVER THE OTHER SANCTUARY!
We´ve only seen the archaeological complex surrounding the Temple of Apollo, the deity of Light, so far. However, a kilometre away from Apollo´s sanctuary in Delphi, another refuge is dedicated to Athena´s goddess. We challenge you to visit this second temple from these lines while also taking in the incredible trail that connects the two temples. This trek is full of sur-prises and offers breathtaking views of the olive groves covering the Cirra valley. Keep your spirits up because it´ll be worth it!
To go to the Temple of Athena, exit the Sanctuary of Apollo and walk to the left, or in the opposite direction of the town, once on the main road. The instructions are plainly marked by signs, but the olive grove should be on our right if we follow the path to the Temple of Athe-na.
After around 300 meters on the path, the first surprise will arrive. The Castalia Fountain, loca-ted just at the bend in the road, is an old spring whose waters were once used to cleanse pil-grims, priests, and the fortune-teller herself before beginning the Oracle of Delphi rite. This fountain was once surrounded by laurels consecrated to the god Apollo. According to mytho-logy, the muses used to come here to listen to the deity Apollo play the lyre.
Leaving the purifying spring behind, we will notice a spot on the right side of the road, among the olive trees, after about 200 meters. The Gymnasium was established in the fourth century before Christ and served as a training ground for athletes. The Gymnasium had hot springs, a lecture auditorium, a circular swimming pool, and two open and covered race tra-cks. Exactly like today´s high-end gyms! Unfortunately, just a few relics of the Gymnasium have been preserved.
Continuing our trek, we will come across a sign marking a fork in the road that will lead us to the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, whose name implies that it predates Apollo´s. We shall arri-ve at the Temple of Athena, goddess of health, wisdom, and fertility, following this tiny road. A portion of the goddess´s temple survives, defying the passage of time. It´s the Tholos, a circular structure that archaeologists don´t know much about because its purpose is unknown. Even though the number of columns is known. There are 20 Doric columns on the outside, and on the inside, there are ten Ionian columns!
Both sanctuaries, Apollo´s and Athena´s, are separated by a thousand meters, a walk that is well worth it. Then there´s the return trip, but this minor effort is rewarded by knowing the entire archaeological complex of Delphi!
Zeus, Apollo, and Athena, to name a few. How many Greek gods and tales did they produce? Stories and stories attempted to explain the origins of the world, making these myths both feared and respected by man and loved and revered. These gods provided protection, hope, and an explanation for the universe´s significance to early humans.
There were numerous gods in Classical Greece, all of whom were related to one another and each of whom had his own country. Mythological legends and heroes helped man overcome his worries, find multiple answers, and feel safe in an unfamiliar world. These myths have also served as sources of inspiration for artists, appearing in literary works, paintings, and tens of thousands of sculptures. Let´s discover more about Delphi´s major gods!
As we have already seen, the god Zeus was the one who placed the omphalos in Delphi. This god, considered the father of gods and men, according to mythology, saved his brothers from certain death. It turned out that Chronos, god of time, was tipped off by a prediction that one of his sons would eventually dethrone him. So every time his wife Rhea gave birth to a child, Kronos ate it. This happened with several children until Rhea, goddess of Nature, got tired. After giving birth to her last child, she decided to trick Cronos by giving him a stone wrap-ped in diapers as if it were the baby. This child was Zeus himself! Kronos swallowed the sto-ne, and thus the baby was able to survive.
When Zeus reached adulthood, he resolved to free his siblings who remained trapped inside their father´s body. Zeus vanquished Cronus, causing him to vomit the stone and all of his brothers, including Poseidon and Hades. The omphallus was the stone that was later used by Zeus to mark the world´s navel.
Everything is interconnected! Zeus married Hera and had children with her, but he was a lusty guy who had many more offspring with a variety of mistresses. Apollo and Athena, the gods who battled about who knew the centre of the world, were among these children born out of wedlock. Apollo planned to create his own shrine in Delphi once it was determined that this location was in Delphi, but first, he had to fight the Python serpent, which had been left by Gaia, goddess of the earth. Apollo built his temple with the omphalos and the oracle of the Pythoness, the Pythia, after defeating the Python.
One of the most famous Oracle of Delphi predictions was delivered to Laius, Oedipus´ father. He was told that his son would kill him. Laius tried everything he could to stop it. Still, his son Oedipus killed his father without realizing who he was in the end. He married his own mother, completely ignoring who he was. That´s where the famous phrase "Oedipus complex" comes from!
THE APPEALING SACRAL WAY
The route we´ve planned for you in the Sanctuary of Delphi is filled with so much beauty and history that it´s impossible not to stop every few meters to marvel at its many wonders. Its cultural and monumental load is really exciting to be a direct witness of so much history. It is a short walk, which can be covered in about ten minutes. Still, the temporary journey made during its few meters is truly abysmal. This path, short in distance but infinite in emotion, receives the beautiful name of Via Sacra.
The sacred road leads to the Temple of Apollo and starts directly at the entrance to the Delphi archaeological site. Even though the Via Sacra is no longer a ghost of what it once was, the enormous number of podiums and monuments that remain allow us to imagine the majesty that this avenue once held.
As soon as we approach the ancient site, we come across the Roman Agora, which was cons-tructed centuries after the rest of the sanctuary. It is a rectangular floor plan space with some traces of the portico in the shape of Ionic columns. It was built during Roman Greece, which occurred when Greece was annexed by the Roman Empire. Delphi´s residents´ social and bu-siness life took place in the Agora.
The Via Sacra starts from the Agora, a zigzag path flanked by numerous monuments that leads us up the slope to the Temple of Apollo. It is exciting to think that this is the same path that pilgrims climbed to reach the Oracle of Delphi!
The ruins of "treasures," which were miniature temples built near large sanctuaries to house votive gifts made to the gods, stand out among all the structures that dot the Via Sacra. The magnificent Treasury of the Athenians, an Ionic temple presented by the citizens of Athens and built with the spoils taken in the fight of Marathon against the Persians, is without a doubt the best preserved. The omphallus, which marks the globe´s centre, is right next to this small temple!
A little further up, we find the remains of the Porch of the Athenians, a monument built to store the loot captured from the Persian armies and further on, we will come across a replica of the Tripod of Plataea, a magnificent bronze column formed by three intertwined serpents whose original was also Persian booty.
We´ll arrive at the Temple of Apollo, which marks the end of the Via Sacra, shortly after that. Only a few columns remain of the majestic Doric temple. Still, it is easy to envisage its gran-deur in ancient times, especially when learning that its interior contained the adyton with the omphallus and the oracle of the Pythia.
The Via Sacra contains many more jewels that you can discover during your tour. Open your eyes wide and enjoy this enriching sacred path!
THE EXCITING STADIUM
Very close to the theatre, a perfect place awaits us to sit and rest. This is the Delphi stadium, whose stands offer us the ideal place to catch our breath after the exercise carried out while touring the archaeological complex. In addition, its colossal size and its position, somewhat apart from the rest of the sanctuary´s vestiges, make the stadium a very appropriate place to connect with solitude and reflection. And precisely, speaking of exercising, the very long stands of the stadium are a great place to reflect on the importance of sport in our health and on the benefits of leading an athletic life, something that human beings have been very aware of since ancient times. More remote.
The Delphi stadium was erected in the V century BC and soon served as a venue for the spor-ting competitions held during the Pythian Games. Its dimensions are so colossal that its stands could accommodate 7,000 spectators, and up to 16 rivals could compete on its race track simultaneously. It is one of the best-preserved grandstands of antiquity. Its current con-dition is so excellent that you can still distinguish the line that indicates the exit of its 16 la-nes.
This quiet stadium, located just below a very steep and practically vertical rock wall, is a per-fect haven of peace to let our imaginations fly and recreate the tough sports competitions on this long track divided into 16 lanes in our minds. And it is that attending those athletic events in this magical place had to be tremendously exciting!
These competitions covered numerous sports disciplines, such as racing, long jump, discus or javelin throw. There were also exciting equestrian events, such as horse races or races in horse-drawn carts. There were different categories of chariots, depending on the number of horses that pulled the vehicle. On one side were the chariots, which were chariots pulled by four horses, and on the other side were the chariots, which only needed two horses.
The athletes of the Pythic Games competed classified by categories that varied according to the participant´s age. The athlete could compete in the adult category, youth category, or in-termediate category called beardless. Most of the data that has come down to our days tells us of male participants. However, there is also evidence that women also competed from time to time. Still, it was something very sporadic. In addition to receiving the people´s admiration, the winners received a glorious laurel wreath.
Sitting for a while in the Delphi stadium and recreating in our imagination the great atmosp-here that should have existed in these stands during these glorious competitions is really pri-celess!
Address: Ancient Stadium of Delphi Delphi 330 54. Greece
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