Day Sixteen, Delphi, Greece

November 28, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Arachova - Central Greece

The mountains of the Parnassos region of Central Greece are a stunning part of the country, and the famous village of Arachova ( Arahova ) sits proudly amongst them, overlooking an inspiring valley.

Arachova is a village with a very rich and interesting history, and is a popular stop for visitors who are heading to the Parnassos Ski Centre during the winter months.

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Delphi - Central Greece

The ancient site of Delphi in Central Greece, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, and is the second most visited ancient site after the Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens.

The Sacred Way (The path to the Temple of Apollo) winds its way up past numerous ruins of treasury houses, set up by each Greek city-state to show off their power and wealth by housing their various offerings to Apollo. The partially restored Athenian Treasury, seen below, is perhaps the most impressive of the treasury house ruins.

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Temple of Apollo

Excavations reveal that Delphi was first inhabited in late Mycenaean times (15th century BC) and that priests from Crete brought the cult of Apollo to central Greece in the 8th century BC. The version of Apollo worshipped on the island was Apollo Delphinios - the god in the form of a dolphin - and it was from this that the holy city derived its name.

The Temple of Apollo, dates from the 4th century BC. It originally had 6 columns on the front and 15 on the sides, which were stuccoed over. The exterior was decorated with shields captured from the Persians at Plataea.

There were two earlier temples on the site: the first was burned in 548 BC and the second was destroyed by an earthquake. Some archaic capitals and wall blocks are preserved from the first temple and many wall blocks and some pediment sculptures are still in existence from the second.

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Delphi Theater
The theater at Delphi was built further up the hill from the Temple of Apollo and it presented the seated audience with a spectacular view of the entire Temple of Apollo below and the valley beyond. It was built in the 4th c. B.C. of the local Parnassus limestone and was remodeled several times subsequently. Its 35 rows can accommodate around five thousand spectators who in ancient times enjoyed plays, poetry readings, and musical events during the various festivals that took place periodically at Delphi. The lower tiers of seats were built during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

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The Pythian Games held at Delphi were one of four Panhellenic games held in ancient Greece, and they attracted competitors from all over the Greek world. Founded in the 6th century BC and held in honor of Apollo, they originally centered around the talents the god exemplified - music and poetry. But soon, athletic competitions were added as well. The best known was a great chariot race, held in the stadium.

 The track was 600 Roman feet long and could hold 17 or 18 runners. Starting in 591 BC, the athletic portions of the Pythian Games were held here every eight years, commemorating Apollo's slaying of the serpent Python. The stadium could seat about 6500 spectators.

High up the hill, beyond the sacred way and the Theater the ancient stadium is nested. It was built in the 5th c. B.C. and it was remodeled several times during the centuries. It originally sat down on the Delphian plain but Its present form was built in the 2nd c. A.D. when Herodus Atticus financed the stone seating and the arched entrance.

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Sanctuary of Athena

The photograph shows remains of the Tholos temple at the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, with sacred Mt. Parnassus in the background. Located roughly one-half mile from the main concentration of buildings at Delphi, Athena Pronaia was the gateway to Delphi. The site, having been occupied since the Neolithic Period (5000-3000 BC) and later by the Myceneans, may actually predate Delphi as a sacred place. Originally dedicated to the worship of an Earth Goddess, the shrine was eventually occupied by Olympian deities, Athena in particular.


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