After the Acropolis, Delphi is the most popular archaeological site in Greece. Located on Mount Parnassus, north of the Gulf of Corinth and 180 kilometers from Athens, a trip to Delphi is listed in just about every tour itinerary and is by far the most popular day trip out of Athens. Delphi has a special meaning, more then just another collection of ruins in a country that is full of them. Delphi in ancient times was considered the center of the known world, the place where heaven and earth met. This was the place on earth where man was closest to the Gods. According to legend, when Zeus released two eagles from opposite ends of the earth, their paths crossed in the sky above Delphi establishing the site as the center of the world. 

Delphi is known as the center of worship for the God Apollo, son of Zeus, who embodied moral discipline and spiritual clarity. But even before the area was associated with Apollo there were other deities worshipped here including the earth goddess Gea (Mother Earth) and Poseidon (Earth Shaker). The serpent, Python, son of Gea, was installed in a nearby cave and communication made through the Pythian priestess. Python was subsequently slain by Apollo, whose cult had been imported from Crete. Legend has it that Apollo arrived in the form of a dolphin, hence the name Delphoi. The Pythian Games were established to commemorate the event and perhaps also to placate the ancient deities. By the end of the 8th century BCE, individuals from all over the ancient world visited Delphi to consult the god on what course of action to take, both in public and private life. The oracle was abolished in 393 CE with the Christianization of the Byzantine Empire under Theodosius.  

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Entance to the SanctuaryThe Sanctuary of Apollo is entered through a small agora enclosed by the ruins of Roman porticoes and shops for the sale of votive offerings. The paved Sacred Way begins after a few stairs and zigzags uphill between the memorials and treasuries to the Temple of Apollo. Along each edge is a litter of statue bases where gold, bronze and painted marble figures once stood. Pliny counted more than 3,000 and that was after Nero's infamous raid. The north stoaThe restored North Stoa of the Roman Agora. Monument of the EpigoniThe Monument of the Epigoni, dedicated by the Argives.
Sikyonian TreasuryThe Sikyonian Treasury, a Doric structure built in the mid-6th century BCE. Treasury of the BoeotiansThe Treasury of the Boeotians. The Treasury of the AtheniansThe Treasury of the Athenians was built in 487 BCE in gratitude to the gods for the victory at Marathon over the Persians. Like most treasuries, this small Doric temple contained ex votos dedicated to the gods.
The Polygonal wallThe Polygonal wall is a retaining wall built after the destruction of the old temple of Apollo in 548 BCE to support the terrace on which the new temple was to be erected. The masonry is polygonal and the curved joints of the stones fit perfectly in place. A large number of inscriptions, mostly manumissions, are carved on the stones of the wall. Rock of the SybilThe Rock of the Sybil with the Temple of Apollo to the right. Apollo was not the first to provide oracles at Delphi. According to legend, this rock marks the place where Delphi's first prophetess pronounced her oracles, perhaps channeling the words of the earth goddess, Gea. The Stoa of the AtheniansThe Stoa of the Athenians in front of the Polygonal Wall with its large, irregular blocks and curved joints. The stoa, built in the Ionic order, has seven fluted columns, four of which are visible in this picture. Each column is made from a single stone. It was erected by the Athenians in 479 BCE to house the spoils from their naval victory at Salamis over the Persians.
Ionic columnIonic column fragment located along the Sacred Way near the Stoa of the Athenians. The sacred wayThe Sacred Way as seen from the temple of Apollo. The Altar of the ChiansThe Altar of the Chians is a stone altar where offerings were made to Apollo. The large altar is located in front of the temple of Apollo. It was paid for and erected by the people of the island of Chíos, in the 5th century BCE, according to an inscription cut on the cornice. The monument was made of black marble, except for the base and cornice which were of white marble, resulting in an impressive color contrast. The altar was restored in 1920.
East entrance to the Temple of ApolloThe stone ramp leading from the Altar of the Chians to the east entrance of the Temple of Apollo. On the architrave of the temple, probably on the interior, were inscribed the maxims "Know Thyself" and "Nothing in Excess" which are as meaningful today as they were when they were written. Columns of the Temple of ApolloColumns of the Temple of Apollo, located on the southern tip of the mountain slope. The Doric temple was the home of the Pythia, who seated on a tripod above a deep crevasse, would pronounce her prophesies while the priests wrote them down and translated them to the people. The Pythia was the most famous and respected oracle in the ancient world. Temple of Apollo from the westThe Temple of Apollo as seen from the west. To the left of the temple is the tall rectangular stele on which was the statue, probably on horseback, of Prusias, King of Bithynia (182 - 149 BCE).
Temple of Apollo from the northThe Temple of Apollo with the Phaedriades (Shining Rocks) in the background as seen from the theater (north). The visible ruins belong to the last temple, dated to the 4th century BCE, which was peripteral (6 x 15 columns), in Doric order. It was erected exactly on the remains of an earlier temple, dated to the 6th century BCE. Inside was the adyton, a dark cell at the mouth of the oracular chasm where the Pythia, a priestess over the age of 50 who channeled the spirit of Apollo, would officiate. The monument was partly restored during 1938-1941. The Theater of the sanctuaryThe Theater, located in the northwest corner of the Sanctuary of Apollo, conforms to the general design of a Greek Theater. The cavea had 35 rows of stone benches. The foundations of the skene are preserved on the paved orchestra. The theatre was closely connected with Dionysus, the god of ecstasy, the arts and wine, who reigned in Delphi over the winter months when the oracle was silent. It was used mostly for the theatrical performances during the great festivals of the sanctuary. The Theater of the sanctuaryThe Theater was originally built of limestone from Mount Parnassus in the 3rd century BCE and many times repaired. The ruins we see today date from the Roman Imperial period. It is estimated to have held 5,000 spectators.
Main entrance to the StadiumThe main entrance to the Stadium, located to the north of the theater, consists of three arches supported on four pillars. The two central ones have niches for statues. North side of the StadiumThe track (177.55 m long by 25 m wide) and tiers of seats on the north side of the stadium viewed from the remains of the entrance archway. Made entirely of limestone from Mount Parnassus, the present structure's best preserved seats are located in the lower rows of the 7th cuneus (division) on the north side. These backed benches were used by the presidents of the games and honored guests.  The StadiumThe Stadium.  The Pythian Games, one of the four great athletic and drama festivals of ancient Greece, was held every 4 years in this stadium to commemorate Apollo's slaying of the serpent Python. The large stadium was famous for its chariot races and is considered the best preserved in all of Greece.
Doorway in the stadiumDoorway in the stadium.   The Stadium was constructed in the 5th century BCE and was remodeled in the 2nd century CE by the Romans at the expense of Herodes Atticus (101 - 178 CE), the millionaire Athenian sophist, who added stone seats and the arched monumental entrance. Greek stadiums (including the one at Olympia) generally provided merely a sloping, grassy area for those viewing the events. It held 7,000 spectators. The GymnasiumThe Gymnasium was a complex of buildings used by the youths of Delphi for their education and practice. It was built in the 6th century BCE, perhaps when the Pythian Games were reorganized, and repaired many times. It was constructed on many levels due to the sloping terrain. On the upper level was a stoa and a free open space used for running practice. On the lower level was the Palaestra (training area), the circular swimming pool and the roman baths (thermae). The XystosThe Xystos, or covered track of the Gymnasium, on which the athletes practiced running for the Pythian Games.
The Castalian FountainThe underground Castalian Fountain house. It was built at the end of the 7th century BCE and repaired with slight alterations in the Hellenistic period. Before entering the Sacred Precinct, it is believed that everyone visiting Delphi for religious purposes, including the athletes, were required to bath themselves in the clear but icy waters of the Castalian Spring. Marmaria PrecinctSoutheast of the Temple of Apollo is the Marmaria Precinct, or marble quarry, where the Sanctuary of Athena Pronoia (Guardian of the Temple) is located. The Tholos and Temple of AthenaAt the Sanctuary of Athena's entrance stand the ruins of a 4th-century BCE temple dedicated to Athena (foreground). Beyond it, stands the Marmaria's most remarkable and most photographed monument: the circular Tholos. At the far end of the sanctuary (behind the Tholos) lie the remains of an earlier temple to Athena which was built around 510 BCE.
The TholosThe Tholos is a circular building in Doric order, built c. 380 BCE. Its function remains unknown but it must have been an important building, judging from the multi-colored stone, the fine workmanship and the high-standard relief decoration. Tholos columnsThe three slender restored columns and entablature of the Tholos colonnade, originally containing 20 columns. The monument was partly reconstructed in 1938. Tholos relief decorationDetail of the high-standard relief decoration of the Tholos.

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