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The archaeological area of Delphi
• The Temple of Apollo
• Delphi treasuries
• The Oracle of Delphi
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• The Delphi theatre
• The Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia - Delphi tholos
• The Kastalia spring
• The sacred way
• The Sibyl rock
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• The altar of the Chians
• The pillar of Prusias
• The polygonall wall
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                                         The archaeological area of Delphi
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Delphi model The temple of Apollo Epigoni - Kings of Argos Sicyonian and Siphnian Treasuries Athenian Treasury Bouleuterion The sacred way The sacred way Rock of Sibyl Halos The stoa of Athenians Polygonal wall Corinthian Treasury Prytaneum Altar of the Chians Pillar of Prusias Stoa of Attalus Stoa of the Aitolians Lesche of the Cnidians The Theatre


                                                                                                           Click on the above image to link to the monuments    

An ancient tradition tells that when Zeus wanted to see where was the centre of the earth, left two eagles to fly, the one to the east and the other to the west. The two eagles met itself at Delphi and they sit on a stone, the navel of the earth, defining it as a center of the world as the centre of the world.
With this tradition ancient Greeks wanted to emphasize the particular importance that Delphi had not only for Greece but also for entire the ancient world. Indeed, Delphi being the most important place of Apollo's worship and the headquarter of the most famous oracle and most important amfjktyonic of the ancient world, is one of the sacred archaeological places of Greece.

The excavations showed that the oldest evidence of human activity in the Delphi, can be reduced up to the end of neolithic season (4.000-3.000 B.C.). Organised settlement is present at the end of mycenaean period (1300-1100 B.C.) in which there is also evidence of worship of a female deity. Apollo appears to be installed at the temple during geometric period (11th - 8th c. BC) when begins the development of Delphi.

In its heyday Delphi claimed to be the centre of the world, showing as proof (like other cities so situated) the earth's petrified navel, a domical boulder that stood inside the temple of Apollo.  The position of Delphi was remote and inconvenient, its natural wealth was negligible,  the scenery was not abnormally grand (if indeed the early Greeks had much taste for rugged grandeur) and there were other oracles in central and southern Greece. Anyhow by the seventh or later eight century B.C. its oracle of Apollo was pre-eminent in Greece, answering equitably and humanely the problems of private inquirers and also (as far as was prudent) religious and political questions put by the great states, and it became regular to ask the god's blessing on any expedition to found a new city overseas.

The reputation of the sanctuary, wealth, the tribute offered by the thousands of visitors but also the
great prestige and the role of the Oracle around the world, were enough to cause conflicts and war to
enforce control to the oracle and plunder the rich treasures.  So at the beginning of the sixth century the Delphians were able to procure their independence under a guarantee from the Amphictyonic Council, appointed by most of the Greek powers that mattered.

Throughout their lifetime Delphi lived many adventures and wars, the best known of which is the 4
"holy" called wars: the first was between 600-590 BC the second 448-446, the third 356-346 and the fourth 339-338 BC. These wars were caused by interference of Phocaeans, Amphissaeans, or Krissaions surrounding cities of Delphi, against the sovereign rights of the Oracle, but eventually in all cases the amphictyones managed to impose their willingness restoring their enemies into order.
In these wars always helped the oracle the powerful forces of the area (Sicyonians, Thessaly, Athens,
Sparta, Thebes, Aetolian League, Macedonia) with the profit of course to have the god favourable and ally in their affairs.

Even after 479 B.C., when the oracle had unluckily backed the Persians and scepticism was growing, the sanctuary continued to flourish and, though the Phocians melted down many of its treasures in the mid fourth century and the Romans looted works of art in the first centuries B.C. and a.d., there were always new benefactors for a sanctuary so hallowed by tradition.

At last in the third century a.d. decline set in, as elsewhere, and the end came in the fourth or fifth century, when Christianity was established as a compulsory religion and Delphi had to live on its own resources. When travellers began to visit Greece in modern times, they found a poor village called Kastri on the site of the sanctuary of Apollo, and the first job of the French excavators in 1892 was to move its inhabitants to their present location.

Apart from the wars the sanctuary has suffered frequently from natural disasters, especially earthquakes and the destruction of rocks from the Phaedriades. In two of them at 548 BC and 373 BC earthquake and rocks destroyed the temple of Apollo, the Temple of Athena Pronaia and a lot of other offerings. But in two other cases, the rocks save Delphi from hostile arm ready for pillage: At 480 BC Persians and at 297 BC the Galatians run away when rocks and lightnings fell over them and everyone believed that God sented.

The Sanctuary of Apollo, the principal sanctuary of Delphi, occupies much the same position as the early (and later) villages, part of a steep hollow between high cliffs, liable to landslides as well as earthquakes but with convenient springs. The main entrance is round the south-east corner of the enclosing wall, about 300 yards past the Museum on the main road from the village. Another road above the village climbs to near the Stadium; but though it is easier to walk down the site.

In its final extent, fixed in the later sixth century B.C., the sanctuary was about 200 yards long and 150 wide and the slope was necessarily terraced.  In the middle stood a big temple of Apollo and the remaining space was crammed with lesser holy places, treasuries and dedications (mostly statues set singly or in rows on bases and pedestals of every type). Even after Nero's visit there were three thousand such statues to be seen.




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