Delphi (Delfí), lying on the slopes of Mount Parnassus high above the Gulf of Corinth, is one of the most famous cult sites in Greece, known throughout the ancient Greek world and beyond as the sanctuary of Apollo and the shrine of his oracle.
Here are some of the places which will blow up your mind:
1. The Sacred Way
The Sacred Way is the main route through the Sanctuary of Apollo, leading from the gateway uphill 200 meters to the Temple of Apollo. Originally, it was lined with votive monuments and treasuries erected by various Greek cities, reflecting the diversity of the political pattern of ancient Greece. The monuments themselves have disappeared but many of their bases have survived.
2. Temple of Apollo
All that remains of the Temple of Apollo, the most important building in the Sanctuary of Apollo, are the foundations. It was built on the same location three times and featured columns, sculptures, and statues inside. It is here, in the adyton (inner shrine) that the Pythia (priestess) would sit and utter the words of the Oracle, sent to her by Apollo and interpreted by the priests.
3. Treasury of the Athenians
The Treasury of the Athenians (built around 510 BC and re-erected 1903-06) is in the form of a Doric temple. It was built by the Athenians, using marble from the island of Paros, to house their offerings to Apollo. It is decorated with a fine frieze - what you see is a copy, the original is in the Delphi Museum.
A flight of steps leads up to the theater. Dating from the fourth century BC, with later alterations during the Roman period, the theater could accommodate 5,000 spectators on 35 rows of stone benches. It was built to host musical contests at the Pythian Games, which were held at Delphi from 590 BC onwards. Lying within the sacred precinct, it commands fine views of the entire site.
5. The Tholos
Close to the fourth-century-BC Temple of Athena, stands the Tholos, based on a circular plan with the remains of 20 Doric columns on the outside and 10 Corinthian columns in the interior. It was built around 380 BC, and though its exact function is unknown, it is regarded as a masterpiece of Classical architecture.
6. The Mountain Village of Arahova
In winter, wealthy Athenians like to visit the mountain village of Arahova (population 800), on the north slopes of Mount Parnassus, eight kilometers east of Delphi. Old stone buildings host old-fashioned hotels and guest houses with traditional decor, small romantic taverns serving local specialities such as hilopites (a type of pasta) and formaéla (cheese served grilled), and shops selling fluffy flokati rugs.