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Archaeological Site of Delphi

Last Update: Aug 2019

UNESCO World Heritage List

Archaeological site, Cultural heritage DELFI , FOKIDA , GREECE
Tel.: +30 22650 82312-3, 82346
Opening hours:
00Apr - 00Oct Mon-Sun, 0800-2000

Archaeological Site of Delphi - Photo Gallery

Archaeological Site of Delphi - Overview

Cradle of one of the most important sanctuaries of the Greek antiquity and its most famous oracle was the land of Phocis and specifically the green valley of the river Pleistos. To the north, the valley is surrounded by the Mount Parnassus, while on the south it opens to the sea of the Corinthian Gulf. A landscape of untamed beauty and a crossroad of natural passages in the heart of mainland Greece, the land of Delphi meant much more for the ancient Greeks: According to the legend, Zeus let two eagles fly from the ends of the world to find the navel of the Earth. And the sacred birds met at Delphi.

In the course of 1500 years, the Delphi sanctuary and oracle mirrors the ancient history, as its fate was inextricably tied, not only with the history of Greece but also of the then known world. The powerful monarchs of the East seek its oracles, while there isn't a single event with some historical significance in the Greek region, in which the Delphic oracle has not implicitly or explicitly taken part or stand. Due to its wealth and influence was the apple of discord and a magnet for invaders. The prevalence of Christianity deprived Apollo from its shelter and Pythia was silenced. The last Delphic oracle uttered to the emperor Ioulianos (AD 360-363) would be its swan song. In AD 394 the decree of the emperor Theodosius I banned the pagan cults and their sanctuaries. One year earlier were held the last Olympic Games of the antiquity.


  • The Delphic sanctuary lies on the base of the gigantic rocks of Parnassus, the Phaedriades. The rocks are split forming an awesome chasm. Its clefts emitted the vapours in which the ancients saw the spirit of God and gave way to the waters of the sacred spring of Castalia; no one was allowed to seek Apollo's oracle before washed and purified in its waters.

  • When approaching Delphi the first site to be seen is the temenos of Athena Pronaia, the epithet meaning the goddess worshipped before the temple of Apollo. In this sanctuary is situated the renowned tholos of Delphi, a 4th century BC masterpiece of the ancient Greek architecture. The tholoi were circular structures, attributed to the cult of heroes or chthonic deities, an interpretation that remains uncertain in lack of ancient testimonies regarding their use. The type is found in other major sanctuaries as well, in Epidaurus and Olympia for instance.

  • Leaving behind the grounds of Pronaia we ascend to the sanctuary of Apollo. The roughness of the amphitheatrical landscape betrays the most difficult challenge that ancient craftsmen dealt with. A winding path, the Sacred Way led to the imposing temple of Apollo, that overlooks the shrine from its centrally located, elevated position. In the adyton of this temple, a separate closed room at the rear, Pythia, seated on the tripod, uttered the prophetic - and by all accounts unintelligible - words of the god. The Doric temple we see today was completed in 330 BC, during the reign of Alexander the Great, and it was the last in a succession of six temples built on the site in honour of Apollo.

  • The elegant Treasuries (Thisavroi in Greek) were erected by several Greek cities to host their votive offerings to the shrine. A notable example in terms of its elegant architecture and sculptural decoration is the 6th century BC treasury of the Siphnians, the oldest structure in mainland Greece entirely built by marble. It had a porch supported not by columns but by Korai statues, like the Erechtheion of the Athenian Acropolis one century later. An important specimen of the late Archaic period, when the island workshops give the tone in the art, the treasury of the Siphnians is entirely worthy of the reputation of the island that donated it: Siphnos was among the richest Aegean islands of the time.

  • The Athenians’ treasury was erected after their victory at Marathon in 490 BC to host the best part of their war booty. In the 3rd century BC were inscribed on the outside walls two hymns to Apollo, including the ancient musical signs, an extremely rare finding.

  • Perched on a hillside with panoramic view, lies the theatre of Delphi, built in 400 BC of white stone from Parnassus. Its capacity is estimated to 5000 spectators and it bears all the typical architectural features of the Late Classical Greek theatres, though it is somewhat narrower in form, due to the limited natural space available. In the theatre were held the music and dramatic competitions of the Pythian Games; moreover, the theatre, as the place of public gatherings par excellence, was used for the disclosure of release acts, concerning in their vast majority slaves.

  • Higher still, a path leads from the theatre to the stadium, where the sporting events of the Pythian Games were held. The stadium acquired its final form during the 5th century BC and was able to hold 7000 spectators. Its length equals that of the Roman stadium, namely 177.55 m. - the Panathenaic stadium was 184.96 m long and the Olympic, which was the largest ancient stadium, 192.27 m long. The starting and finish lines were paved with stone slabs, which had grooves to support the athlete's foot. One may still see the holes of the wooden pegs used as separators between the runners; by their number we conclude that in each race participated 17 or 18 individuals.

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    Cultural Heritage • World Heritage Monument (UNESCO)
    Visiting Information • Admission fee • Fixed hours • Organized archeological site • Gift shop • Parking
    Ancient Oracle  
    Ancient monuments • Stoas / Classical period, 480-323 BC / Hellenistic period, 323-31 BC / Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324 • Fountain • Gymnasium / Classical period, 480-323 BC • Theatre / Late Classical period, 4th century BC • Stadium / Classical period, 480-323 BC • Temples / Late Classical period, 4th century BC
    Ancient sanctuary • Sanctuary of Apollo

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