Delphi is an archaeological site in mainland Greece comprised of the well-preserved ruins of one of the most important cities in Ancient Greece. Archaeologists have found evidence that Delphi was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period and sites dating back to the Mycenaean Civilisation, but it was the Ancient Greek city which developed in Delphi which has left the biggest mark on the area.
Many of the sites at Delphi date back to the fifth century BC, although many have been reconstructed and some altered by the Romans. Many of the buildings also suffered from damage and destruction caused by fires and earthquakes. Nevertheless, walking through Delphi offers a fascinating insight into the lives of its former inhabitants.
Part of what made Delphi such an important city was its mythological and religious status. Ancient Greek mythology states that when the deity Zeus released two eagles to find the centre of the world, they met in Delphi. The name “Delphi” derives from the word “dolphin” as it was believed that this was where Apollo arrived on the back of a dolphin.
Today, Delphi reveals much of its past through incredible ruins, demonstrating a balance between religion, politics and leisure activities, particularly sports. Amongst these are the Temple of Apollo, believed to date back to the fourth century BC and once a central ceremonial site. This temple is believed to have been one of several that were built on the site, the previous ones having been destroyed by fires and earthquakes. This stood next to the Archive of the winners of the Pythian Games which were held at Delphi, burnt down in 373 BC, also known as the Chresmographeion. Other sporting sites, such as the Delphi gymnasium and the stadium are also visible and are very well preserved.
Possibly the best preserved site in Delphi is the fifth century Doric building of the Treasury of the Athenians, which is located along The Sacred Way, a central road of the religious area of the city. The Treasury of the Athenians held the trophies of sporting victories, although its exact purpose is still the subject of debate.
Perhaps Delphi’s most iconic site is the Tholos. Constructed in around 380 BC, this once circular building had six Doric columns, three of which stand today. The Tholos is actually located away from the rest of the main Delphi sites and, again, its exact purpose is unknown. The nearby Delphi Museum explores the history of the archeological site and houses many finds from its excavation. This famous site also features as one of our Top 10 tourist attractions in Greece.