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Amalia Hotel, Delphi
Amalia Hotel in Delphi is within walking distance from the Archaeological site of Delphi, the Archaeological Museum, the temple of Apollo and the Castalia Fountain. ...
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Vouzas Hotel, Delphi
Perched on a rocky ravine at an altitude of 1800 feet and within walking distance from the museum and the classical sites, some of the oldest ruins in Greece, it is an ideal stating point for trips to the Parnassos ski centre only 30 minutes away and...
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You are in:  Top  →  Europe  →  GREECE  →  Central Greece  →  FOKIDA  →  Delphi


Delphi in Central Greece is the location of the ancient Delphic Oracle and the Delphic Games in Classical Greece era.

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Athena  Sanctuary - Tholos

The myth recounts that at a certain moment Zeus released two eagles, one from the East, the other from the West, and at the point where they met, he threw the Sacred Stone, marking the center of the earth - the navel of the world. At this point one of the most important oracles of antiquity was developed and cultivated - the Delphic Oracle.

Mythology and History of the Oracle
The cave where the divinity Gaia (Mother Earth) used to utter prophecies guarded by her son, the serpent Python, dates from the second millennium BC (Mycenaean period), was located on the way from the Gulf of Corinth to Central and Northern Greece, in a region then called Pytho.

When the god Apollo was an infant, he killed Python, at the same time abandoning Delphi to purify himself. After the purification took place, he returned to Delphi crowned and took over the Oracle, which from then on belonged to him.

Apart from the mythical implications, this act symbolized the introduction of the worship of Delphinios Apollo at Krisa (a town in Phokis, today Hrisso) by the seamen of Knossos. The god became known as Apollo Pythias and the area was called Delphi from that time on.

At first the Oracle was under the strict domination of Krisa.

It was liberated in 590 BC, and it is from this date that the true history and fame of Delphi essentially began.

A number of Sacred Wars broke out for control of the Oracle. The Phokians, Amphissans and even the Athenians vied to avail themselves of its great wealth, interfering with the independence of the priests and the little world that revolved about them.

In 191 BC the Romans became masters of Delphi. This was a period of waves of pillaging raids but also attempts to revive the Oracle. However, nothing could halt Delphi's decline and eventually it ceased to be regarded as the navel of the world.

Organization of the Delphic Force
A religious confederation, Amphictyonic League, composed of representatives (Sacred Scribes) of twelve Greek tribes administered the sacred area and organized the Pythian Games and Delphic Festivals every four years, with sacrifices a performance of the Sacred Drama (whose main theme was the duel between Apollo and Python), music contests and paeans in honor of the god. The members of the Amphictyonic League met every spring and autumn to vote on decisions, which were executed by the Senate. Two priests of equal rank who were assisted by a series of free interpreters and sacred slaves headed worship at Delphi.

The little town of Delphi
About a thousand people lived in the vicinity of the Sanctuary, exploiting the Oracle and the pilgrims in a variety of ways - selling knives for sacrifices or religious objects, exercising the professions of servant and inscription carver.

The prophecy ceremony
Whoever wished to consult the Oracle was obliged to pay a tax, the "telono", which gave him the right to approach the great altar of Apollo to offer sacrifices (boars, goats or bulls).

Having purified herself in the water of the Kastalian Fountain, Pythia bent over the Navel of the Earth (the Sacred Stone), ate a laurel leaf and, inhaling the vapors emitted from the chasm, entered a state of ecstasy, uttering incoherent words. The Priest then composed these into verses, while the interpreter endeavored to render some meaning out of the prophecy.

The priestesses of Apollo
In the beginning the Pythia were chosen from among the young women of Delphi. As time went on, for the priest to be certain of their virtue, they selected them from among women who had passed their fiftieth year.

The archaeological site

The first excavations began in 1838 and were completed in 1935.

The Sanctuary of Apollo with the Treasuries (buildings where the city-states kept votive offerings and religious vessels), the temples and the perivolos (enclosure) lie on the south flank of Mt. Parnassos to your right if you are coming from Arahova.

The Doric temple of Apollo dominates the centre of the Sanctuary. The Sacred Way leads to the temple and is lined with Treasuries, monuments and offerings. Northwest of the temple is the theatre (5,000 seats) where the Delphic Festivals were held, which had as a central theme the representation of Apollo's victory over the serpent Python.

Rather further to the west and somewhat above the theatre lies the Stadium where the Pythian Games took place every four years. To the right of the entrance to the Sanctuary is the Kastalian Fountain, where Pythia washed before speaking her prophecies, and on the left and below the road stands the Sanctuary of Athena; finds have shown that it had been dedicated as early as the Mycenaean era to a female deity. The tholos or rotunda, one of the most remarkable architectural constructions of antiquity, stands next to it. It is not known what this building was used for.

The Museum

The first building dates from 1902. The museum's collection consists exclusively of objects of all kinds from the Sanctuary of Delphi. Among its major works are: the navel of the world (a Hellenistic or Roman copy of the Sacred Stone), the Sphinx of the Naxians (550 BC), the statue of Antinous, the statue of Agias, the group of Thyiads (three colossal female figures portrayed dancing around owered the metopes from the Treasuries of Sicyon and Athens. the Karyatid and Zephyr from the Treasury of Sifnos, the bronze Charioteer, the head of Dionysos.


Still an awe-inspiring location for both Greeks and Europeans, Delphi is a headquarters for international meetings, architectural, archaeological cultural symposia, Congress of Ancient Drama held under the auspices of the European Cultural Center of Delphi. Perhaps the Organizers are reminded of these lines from the "Delphic Hymn" by Angelos Sikelianos:

"Without your aid, O God, I will climb to the summit
and alone, with my wits and guts
- my brothers will wait on the lower heights -
I will sing of the heart of Man, my heart"
Sikelianos' house still stands in the modern town of Delphi.

Today's residents, having superb facilities for tourists, welcome visitors for as long as they wish to stay. Souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels, and contemporary in style, stand for both the Greece of today and the Greece of the future, Greece the member of the European Community. You can discover this modern fascinating land, choosing from several itineraries, either using your own car, a rented vehicle or the local buses. If you select the latter, you need to have more time at your disposal, but you will have a unique opportunity to get to know a Greece rarely seen by tourists.
The Charioteer

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