The Ancient Ruins of Delphi

Considering what we knew about the area, we had three things in mind when we began our short stay in Delphi, Greece- the Temple of Apollo, the Oracle of Delphi, and the archaeological museum. We were able to explore all of that and more during just one day there.

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Our first stop was an iconic three pillared monument, something that always pops into my head when someone says “Delphi”. This is actually called the Tholos of Athena. It was once a series of twenty Doric columns arranged in a circle. The three that stand today were meticulously restored and make a fantastic, eye catching picture, perfectly framing the beautiful landscape around it. To be completely honest, having seen a photo of this so many times before, I mistakenly assumed that it was the Temple of Apollo.

However, the Temple of Apollo sits up higher on the hill, and has a more distinct look though it is just as stunning. It reminded me a bit of giant poker chips sitting in precarious stacks. Both temples were built a few centuries BC and were revered as sacred spaces by the Ancient Greeks. What you can see today of both temples includes both restored columns as well as original ruins and foundations.

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There were many other ruins to check out, including the treasuries, the theater, the gymnasium, and the stadium. The stadium was very interesting to look at but it was quite a hike from the rest of the ruins. I definitely wasn’t expecting such a strenuous hill to walk up to get to it, however I was glad to get to see it. The most impressive part of it was the stone seating, which was added during Herodes Atticus’s remodeling efforts somewhere around the second century AD. It could seat over 6,000 spectators.

As for the famous Oracle of Delphi, well, we didn’t exactly seek her guidance. In ancient times, people would flock to Delphi to ask advice of a High Priestess who channeled the spirit of Apollo in order to find answers. People trusted the process so much, it was often thought that no major decision could be made without seeking this guidance.

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Our final stop of the day here was the nearly empty Delphi Archaeological Museum, which we explored in great depth. There was one other family touring the space that we kept encountering, but other than that and the museum staffers scattered around, there was not a soul. Why was this stunning museum so empty!? A lot of the statues that were discovered out in the ruins were preserved and moved into the museum, as well as quite a few ancient friezes and the impressive Sphinx of Naxos.

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