I arrived in Delphi during my road trip itinerary in mainland Greece. Incidentally, I remember that I had even mistakenly entered the city on the navigator. Strange case, there is another Delphi (or something similar) in the vicinity of the real Delphi; so I had ended up in a remote place in Greece, at night and in the mountains.
Aside from the initial digression, as one can easily understand, the town of Delphi, along with the archaeological site of the same name, is located in Greece and more precisely in the Phocis region, one of the most popular areas of Magna Graecia.
Delphi lies in close proximity to Parnassus, the famous mountain consecrated to Apollo as well as to his 9 muses. It is located 130 kilometers away from Athens (about 600 meters above sea level).
The town of Delphi is located at a very important strategic point, at the crossroads of several ancient communication routes. Perhaps this is also why the belief of “Delphi as the center of the world” was nurtured in Ancient Greece, which is why the Navel of the World called Omphalos was located here.
Given its special location, Delphi can be included in a broader itinerary of a trip to Greece designed precisely to discover the various wonders of Ancient Greece. Not coincidentally, Delphi can be reached quite easily from various parts of Greece and even by day tours from Athens.
Discovery tour of Delphi
Before I proceed to explain more about Delphi, I wanted to recommend a couple of excellent ways to visit the city, the archaeological site and the oracle with organized tours from Athens. If you are not “self-driving” you can:
CLICK HERE and take a simple day trip from Athens including pickup service directly to your hotel.
Where to stay in Delphi?
One of the views I still remember today is the one I saw from my room when I stayed in Delphi. The sky was so clear that, given the town’s elevated location, you could clearly see the sea.
So I can only recommend that you sleep at the PAN HOTEL: excellent cleanliness, wonderful views (ask for a gulf view room) and more than ample breakfast. It really had been a perfect choice.
Delphi: how to get to the archaeological site
You can get to Delphi in several ways:
Train: the nearest station is Livadia and is about 50 km from Delphi. From here you need to take the bus to Delphi.
Bus from Athens: If you do not opt for one of the organized tours, you could take a bus from Athens. Every day there are several companies that provide transportation from Athens to Delphi with ticket prices that are variable depending on the company that organizes and manages the trip, which lasts about 3 hours.
Bus from other cities: if you are not traveling from Athens, you can still reach Delphi by bus from other cities, such as Thessaloniki, Livadia, and Patras. The bus arrival station in Delphi is not very far from the nearby archaeological site.
Best way for those arriving from Athens
If you do not have a car or do not take a tour, the best way to reach Delphi from Athens is by bus. Arriving by car, be careful as the archaeological site is a few kilometers from the city center of Delphi on a road that does not have much parking. I went in November and found no traffic, but be careful in high season.
Why is Delphi so well known?
It is one of the few archaeological sites that, nowadays, preserve in a perfect state various monuments and buildings dating back to Ancient Greek times. However, its popularity is not simply due to the historical factor, which is still very important.
Delphi, even before it was a city, was considered a sanctuary whose main point of interest was the Temple of Apollo. The latter housed the theater and stadium in which with a four-year cadence the Pythian games were held.
It was to this temple that the famous phrase Know Thyself, later taken up by Socrates, dates back. Earth from the Parnassus valley was used to construct the building. In addition to being one of the most important religious sites of the time, Delphi was thus also the center of numerous games and attracted the attentions of many people not only from other parts of Greece, but even from neighboring countries.
The famous legend
The Temple of Apollo did not rise in Delphi by pure chance. One legend claims that the God Apollo arrived at Delphi in the guise of a dolphin, carrying priests from the nearby island of Crete on his back.
This was an extraordinary event. To pay homage to the god in question an oracle was erected, which was given the name Pythos.
This first legend is followed by a second.
According to the latter, Apollo came to Delphi from the north and for a few days lingered in Tempe, a city where he could gather a sacred plant called laurel (laurel). Aware of this, the Greeks decided to build a temple in his honor and also to organize the so-called Pythian games (named after the aforementioned Pythos). The commemoration of this event was so extensive that the laurel wreaths created for the winners were collected directly in the Temple of Apollo.
The worship of the god Apollo was, indeed, oracular, that is, worshippers went to the temple to ask for enlightenment about the future.
Delphi: how to visit and what to see?
Although in the past it was not considered to be a large city, currently the archaeological area of Delphi is large enough to require at least one day to visit it at a very leisurely pace. Keep in mind that the archaeological site runs uphill.
Delphi is divided into two parts: archaeological zone and archaeological museum.
The archaeological zone
Includes the part where the city of Delphi was located. Among the highlights of this area is definitely the Temple of Apollo, rediscovered in 1892. This place was the beating heart of ancient Delphi in Greece. It is not possible to visit Delphi and not visit the Temple of Apollo.
The temple is joined by the theater with a maximum capacity of 5,000 people and the nearby stadium, as well as the main venue for the Pythian games.
The complex forms the Sanctuary of Delphi dedicated to Apollo. Nearby is the shrine of Athena Pronaia, or she who stands in front of the temple. This shrine includes as many as two entrances and, in addition to the related Temple, also houses a building called the New Temple.
We recommend visiting the archaeological area beginning with the Temple dedicated to Apollo. Only thereafter do I recommend moving to the edge of the town. Other special sights in the area are also worth seeing, such as the Valley of Delphi, the columns of the Temple of Apollo, the famous polygonal wall, and the Loggia of stores.
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi
Having finished the archaeological area, I recommend that you concentrate on exploring the Archaeological Museum of Delphi. It is regarded as one of the best Greek museums and houses mainly statues. Everything can be found in this museum: bronze figures, votive shields, helmets, and even a griffin head. One can also find famous depictions of popular scenes related to Greek mythology, as well as the world-famous metopes, which are also a true splendor.
In the museum there are also other exhibits of great historical and artisticimportance, such as the beautiful Sphinx of the Naxians as well as the various friezes from the Treasury of the Syphni, part of which shows scenes related to the Trojan War.
Finally, there are both objects from the Temple of Apollo and the Templeof Athena Pronaia: all are very ancient. Among the most popular objects preserved in the Archaeological Museum is the Statue of Antinous. It is said to be one of the best representations of the young man that have come down to the present day. Added to all this is also the gallery located on the ground floor, with other perfect examples of Ancient Greek art.