Delphi - the centre of the world
Delphi is one of the most impressive archaeological sites anywhere, and the ancient Greeks believed that it was the center of the world. Whoever visits Delphi is bewitched by its mysterious sacred character and feels the resonating presence of the ancient oracle.
Visitors should bear in mind that Delphi was the most important oracle in the classical Greek world. Kings and ordinary citizens, generals and politicians came to consult the oracle during the nine warmest months of each year.
Nowadays, even though “The carven hall is fallen in decay; Apollo hath no chapel left, no prophesying bay, no talking spring, the stream is dry that had so much to say”, many visitors still come to this amazing place. The grandest building at the site of the oracle is the Temple of Apollo, destroyed in 373 BC by an earthquake. The sacred precinct was arranged around the temple on different levels; the Sacred Way, a wide steep path, passes in front of the votive offerings (treasuries, statues, stoas and altars) dedicated to Apollo. The most prominent among these are the Treasury of the Siphnians and the re-constructed Treasury of the Athenians.
Take the path that leads to the Stadium in the highest part of the ancient site – the view is stunning. It is here that the Pythian Games were held every four years. The visit continues on to the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, where the enigmatic Tholos stood, a fine marble rotunda whose purpose remains unknown. A short distance away is the celebrated Castalian Fountain; in this spring, Pythia (the priestess) and all who arrived in Delphi for an oracle had to bathe in order to purify themselves.
The end of the visit to Delphi is best topped off by a visit to the archaeological museum, which displays some masterpieces of the art world. Especially rich in Classical sculpture, the museum contains the famous charioteer bearing on his head the victor’s fillet (ribbon).
Nevertheless, he shows no sign of anticipation or triumph to the thousands of visitors that keep coming to the museum.