Apr 04 2016. view 289
Delphi - Magical, Mystical and Historical
Greece’s second most popular archaeological site Delphi is a destination that is full of history and intrigue. Located two and half hours away from Athens along the slopes of the majestic Mount Parnassus, Delphi was once revered by the ancient Greeks as the center of the earth.
Dedicated to the god, Apollo, Delphi was an important oracle and holy place for worshiping Apollo. In ancient times for at least twelve centuries the Oracle at Delphi spoke on behalf of the gods advising people would come to this sacred spot to inquire of the priestess for advice on a wide range of topics from farming to relationships and politics. The oracle was always a woman and she would often speak in a trance at times in a frenzy answering questions, giving orders and making prophecies.
Over time, as the popularity of the Oracle of Delphi increased, so did the offerings. Temples and monuments were built, and the wealth of the area spread to establish the surrounding city that remains today. Significant ruins and structures at Delphi include the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury, Altar of the Chians, the theater, stadium and hippodrome that once hosted events of the ancient Pythian Games.
As you ascend the steps to the Oracle not only do you get a sense of mystery drama and from the history of the place but also a sense of spirituality. The Temple of Apollo is now just the foundation and a few column but there is enough of it to give you a sense of how majestic it would have been in its heyday.
Our tour guide who spoke perfect English explained how people would ask the priestess questions who would be seated on a tripod over a hole in the earth. It is said that the vapours that escaped from the hole in the earth had a hallucinogenic effect on the priestess and she would often be in a state of delirium. The words “Know Thyself” were carved on the pronaos of the Temple. It is said that this was their way of telling the people that the answers they sought from the Oracle were actually within them. This seemed to make perfect sense as the Temple of Apollo, the god of light and knowlege was actually encouraging you in a way to find the wisdom from within you.
Further uphill from the Temple, you come to the theatre which had the capacity to seat 5000 people and offers sweeping views of the terrain beyond.
The drive from Athens to Delphi is a spectacular one where you witness the changing landscape from barren land to olive groves. The town of Delphi itself offers a choice in hotel accommodation, restaurants, shops, taverns and curio stores. Delphi is a very popular day trip from Athens so try to arrive in Delphi as early as possible to avoid the crowds at Delphi. The little village is quaint and some restuarants not only offer delectable Italian cuisine but also breathtaking views of the valley below.
As you descend the Oracle at Delphi you are left in awe of your surroundings which are steeped in legend, lore and mythology. You wonder how life would have been so many thousands of years ago, the vast number of pilgrims making their journey to Delphi and the many stories that were made at this historic location. Magical, mystical and historical, is how Delphi can be best described.
Text and photographs by Tina Edward Gunawardhana