Delphi – Greece

The Most Famous Oracle of Antiquity, Center of the Universe

For more than 1,000 years Delphi was the site of the most important oracle of ancient Greece, believed to be the mouthpiece of Apollo himself. On the seventh day of every month, a wise old Prvthian priestess would go into a trance and utter her cryptic prophecies to the priests, who redelivered them as enigmatic riddles that could be taken in many ways.

Lines would form days in advance, with supplicants arriving from beyond the Greek mainland. Peasants and world leaders alike consulted tire oracle, bringing animals to be sacrificed and their questions to be answered, inscribed on stone tablets (many of which have survived). Delphi still resonates with mystery.

Set in a spectacular location between two roseate rock faces and against the craggy peak of Mount Parnassus, it is said to have been founded by Zeus, leader of all gods, who determined that this spot was the center of the universe. A stone, the omphalos, still marks the spot that the ancients considered to be the navel of the world, where the priestess sat to receive the famous oracle.

Above the remaining foundations of the Doric Temple of Apollo, the well-preserved 4th-century theater still stands, once site of the famous Pythian Festival, which, like the Olympic Games, was held every four years.

Beyond, a path leads up to the stadium, the best preserved in all of Greece. Don’t miss Delphi’s on-site museum, a small but wonderful collection representing but a glimpse of ancient Delphi’s once astounding treasure trove. Its celebrated bronze statue of a charioteer dates to the time of the amphitheater and stadium, a life-size symbol of the Pythian Games.

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