Don't miss this archeological museum, the reduced but splendid collection presents some of the treasures found in Delphi, particularly the famous charioteer (one of the most famous bronze statue of ancient Greece).
It took us about 3 hours under the harsh August Sun to cmplete a tour of the Sanctuary which houses among others , The Temple of Apollo, the stadium and the Oracle of Delphi.
DO NOT Forget to carry a water bottle each during the summer months of July - September. It becomes very dry and you need to replenish your body with water every 15 minutes of the hot walk around.
There are two places where you can replenish them, one at the entrance gate and the other about 200 metres up .
My advice would be to start early and reach the Sanctuary gates within 9 Am latest. They open at 8.30 Am.
There is a very nice Orthodox church in Delphi. It is beautiful inside, but I don't have pictures because a service was in process and I didn't want to disrupt it. I did get a look around from the doorway.
A not-to-be-missed museum housing the ancient artifacts that were found during the excavation of Delphi. Its exhibits are mainly offerings to the oracle and architectural parts of the buildings. There are also wonderful sculptures, including the famous Charioteer, the Twins of Argos, and a 6th Century Sphinx.
The museum was built in 1903, but has been enlarged several times as the collection grew. There are 13 rooms of exhibits, all on the ground floor.
Spring/Summer hours - 8 a.m - 7:30 p.m. daily (but opens late on Mondays--Noon)
Museum – Admission 3 euro; Archaeological site – Admission - 3 euro; both for 5 euro
on the slopes of Mt. Parnasus, The first signs of worship here appeared in Mycenean times, according to our guide. Mother Earth was the first goddess worshiped; the transition to Apollo happened in the 9th or 10th Century BC. In spiritual and cultural terms, Delphi was the center of the world from the 7th to 4th Century BC.
Advice was given on the 7th day of each month, during the 9 months that Apollo was in residence. Answers were designed to make you think and solve the problem yourself. During the winter months when Apollo was gone, Dionysus filled in! Many Romans came to Delphi, but they came as tourists rather than seeking advice.
Many of the city-states built treasuries at Delphi. The word “Marathon” was carved outside the treasury of Athens to remind everyone who saved Greece from the Persians.
In another area, there were statues (now gone) of Acadians who fought in battle with Sparta.
The Delphi theater had a small track, and it was used every 4 years for the Pythian Games. When we looked at the sheer cliffs above the site, we saw goats on the almost vertical walls.
By the 4th Century AD, the Christians were taking stones for their own buildings. By the 10th Century AD, there was a whole village on top of Ancient Delphi. In 1892 the village was moved so the site could be excavated.
Steps are slanted, and can be slippery, but it isn’t a difficult walk.
Archaeological site – Admission - 3 euro; Museum – 3 euro; both for 5 euro
This is obviously the main attraction to Delphi and has considerable significance as an ancient Greek religous site. The Temple of Apollo and its oracle became the reason why the ancients would visit to seek divine advice on matters of relative importance depending on their rank, from Kings with their questions regarding wars and other matters of state to commoners with their domestic problems. The sanctuary was built up by votive offerings from those seeking guidance as is evidenced by the numerous treasuries on the path leading to the Temple itself, the most impessive of these being the Treasury of the Athenians.
Also on the main site is the Archeological Museum with its displays of both local and national antiquities.
At the time of writing the entrance fee to the main site was 6 euros or 9 including the museum.
Above the Temple of Apollo is the 5th century BC Stadium which was rebuilt in the 2nd century BC by the Roman Herodus Atticus. This was where the Pythian Games were held and was also the site of chariot races. The stadium is about 200 metres long and could seat about 7000 spectators.
Be warned though that this is a bit of a climb but well worth the visit.
The Temple of Apollo was and is the main attraction here at Delphi. It was here that the Pythian priestess would inhale the natural vapours emanating from the rocks and on entering a trance would chant her prophesies in semi-sensible sentences. It would be down to the priests to interpret the garbled messages and relay them to the advice seeker. Of course such services didn't come free of charge and donations and sacrifices were the order of the day.
As with the theatres at The Acropolis the present day ruins are in fact of Roman origin but were built on a 6th century BC site where Greek plays and poetry would have been performed. The stage used to be fronted with a frieze of Herakles at his labours which is now in the on-site museum.
Delphi's ruins are the 2nd most popular in Greece behind the Acropolis in Athens. They are on a beautiful mountain setting and many are well-preserved.
According to legend, Zeus released 2 eagles from opposite ends of the earth. Their paths crossed and they impaled each other and fell to the ground in Delphi to mark the "omphalos" (navel), or centre of the earth.
Delphi is known as the home of the oracle, who was said to have the powers of speaking for Apollo. People would flock here from all over the world for advice directly from the sun god.
From about 1600 BC to 1100 BC the site was originally called Pytho and was the sacred place of Gaia, goddess of the earth. It was guarded by a python for which it was named. It is believed the oracle had its beginnings at that time.
In about 1000 BC, Apollo became the popular god to worship and arrived in Pythos in the form of a dolphin. The site was renamed Delphi in honor of the dolphin.
The oracle was very influential in politics and social issues for over 1000 years. The importance of the oracle began to decline during the 1st century, and the last recorded oracle was in 362. In 393, the Christian Emperor Theodosius closed the temple for good. The French Archaeological School began excavations in 1893.
Get to the ruins as early as possible to beat the heat and avoid massive crowds. Admission is charged. Hours are 7:30am-7pm daily from April to October and 8:30am-3pm daily from November to March. The site is closed on major public holidays.
See my other tips for more details.
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi is located next to the ruins. It has a collection of artifacts found at Delphi, including statues, parts of the buildings, and more.
The most popular statue is the bronze Charioteer, which was part of a larger statue containing a chariot drawn by 4 horses. It was a gift to Apollo in 438 BC by Polyzalos, ruler of Gela, after he won the chariot race at the Pythian Games.
Admission is charged. The museum has the same hours as the ruins.
The view from Delphi is woth the whole trip.
The town is set on a mountainside and you have a fantastic view over the area and all the way to the sea.
set aside a few hours just to sit in one of the many cafes and restaurants you have en Delphi with a fantastic view of the area.
Ancient Delphi is located on a steep hillside and has a fantastic view over the area and it's sometimes hard concentrating on the site cause you are so busy enjoying the view.
There are some very interesting things at the site and i would probaply say that the stadium was my personal favorite, but the Apollon temple and the theater is also very interesting.
When looking at my photo of 1977 I had no difficulty in finding what it was. The Tholos with the three restored Doric columns is the most popular site at Delphi for photographs.
This circular building at the centre of the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia consisted of 20 Doric columns arranged with an exterior diameter of 14.76 meters, with 10 Corinthian columns in the interior.
I was glad to read that the use of tholos, as all the circular buildings in Greek sanctuaries, remains still dark even it is supposed that is related with chthonian cults. Nothing new since 1977.
On the time of my visit I wondered why, with all the drums belonging to the original columns lying on the ground, they had not restored all of the Tholos.
I never got an explanation for that, but I suspect Greek archeologues to prefer romantic ruins to restorated monuments.
PS. I saw here a similar photo of the Tholos by Jmil42. Please note that on my photo from 1977 there only 2 tourists instead of 20 in 2004!
It was in the museum of Delphi that my passion for Greek bronze sculptures started after I saw the "Aurige de Delphes".
In French we use the word "aurige". This word comes from the Latin word "auriga" = driver of the antique chariots and sounds better than charioteer which, in French, refers to agricultural carts. So please excuse my little language snobbism.
Since my visit in 1977 to Delphi, I had the chance to admire other Greek bronzes in various museums and each time I felt enthusiast (ref. my tips on Greek bronzes in Roman museums).