Delphi (Sanctuary of Apollo) (World Heritage)

By | August 8, 2021

Delphi had been around since the 8th century BC. Most important cult place of Apollo, “navel of the world” and contact point for advice seekers from all over the ancient world. Pythia, as the Oracle of Delphi, proclaimed the answers to the questioners. The holy district was spread over four terraces and was peppered with numerous temples, treasure houses and monuments. In addition to the Temple of Apollo, the most important buildings at the ruins include the Holy Road with the treasure houses, the stadium, the theater and the sanctuary of Athene Pronaia.

Delphi (Sanctuary of Apollo): facts

Official title: Delphi (Sanctuary of Apollo)
Cultural monument: the Temple of Apollo with the “Oracle of Delphi”, the theater, the Kerna and Castalian springs, the gymnasium and the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia
Continent: Europe
Country: Greece
Location: Delphi, at the foot of Mount Parnassus, northwest of Athens
Appointment: 1987
Meaning: the “navel of the world”, the religious center and symbol of ancient Greece

Delphi (Sanctuary of Apollo): history

since 8th century BC Chr. Worship of the god Apollo in Delphi
600-590 BC Chr. First Holy War between Delphi and Krísa
548 BC Chr. Construction of the Temple of Apollo
after 478 BC Chr. Establishment of the Athenian stoa to store trophies from the victory over the Persians
373 BC Chr. Earthquake and destruction of the Temple of Apollo
346 BC Chr. after the Fourth Holy War under the influence of Philip II of Macedonia
330 BC Chr. under Alexander the great completion of the rebuilt Temple of Apollo
394 Theodosius the Great bans the pagan cult
1893 Rediscovery by French archaeologists and excavations, including of 5000 inscription steles
1903-06 Reconstruction of the Treasury of the Athenians
1938-41 partial reconstruction of the temple of Apollo

The center of the world

He would destroy a great empire if he crossed the border river Halys: This prophecy of the oracle of Delphi was followed by Lydian king Kroisos in the sixth century BC in the hope of defeating enemy Persia. The oracle was fulfilled, but differently than the Lydian king had assumed, because the great empire meant his own, which was inferior to the Persians in battle.

Such ambiguities in the oracles, some of which were proclaimed in verse by the priesthood of the Apollo Shrine, were not uncommon. The final interpretation and interpretation of the words was left to the visitors, because “the Lord, to whom the oracle in Delphi belongs, says nothing and hides nothing, but gives signs”, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once put it. The need for such signs, for orientation and security for future action, was already great in antiquity, and so the sanctuary built on the slope of Mount Parnassus developed into the most important oracle in Greece. According to topb2bwebsites, private individuals and emissaries from Corinth, Euboia and Rhodes made pilgrimages here to seek advice.

The Council Seeker, who once climbed the sacred road of the oracle, passed groups of sculptures, consecration gifts and treasure houses that had been donated by grateful visitors and were supposed to demonstrate their fame and power. Remnants of these buildings – such as the relief of the treasure house of Sikyon, the Ionic frieze of the treasure house of Siphnos and the treasure house of the Athenians – have been preserved to this day and document the influence that Delphi exerted and affected colonizations and wars, as well as constitutions and the founding of cities. So it is not surprising that over the centuries so many wars have been fought for supremacy over the sanctuary and that the treasures of the oracle have been the target of various attempts at plunder.

The actual prophecy took place in the Temple of Apollo. The sayings of the “Seven Wise Men” such as “Nothing too much” and “Know thyself” could already be read on the walls in its vestibule. The divination ceremony itself must have been an impressive spectacle. First of all, the matter had to be raised in a loud voice. The chief priestess, Pythia, then proclaimed the “will of Zeus”; she was sitting on a tripod over a crevice from which intoxicating vapors rose that drove the chosen one into ecstasy. She touched the so-called umbilical stone, once the center of the world determined by Zeus, the interface between heaven and earth. The “interpretation” and “translation” of the prophecies were then carried out by male priests of the sanctuary.

According to the myth, cults for the earth mother Gaia took place in Delphi at its prophetic source from the earliest times. Later, Apollo is said to have taken possession of the sanctuary by killing the serpent Python, the guardian of the oracle, without, however, completely displacing the old cults around Gaia and her husband Poseidon, and the god Dionysus also kept his place in the sanctuary. When Apollo left the sanctuary during the winter months, festivals were even held in honor of the god Dionysus.

From the very beginning, festivals took place at the site of the oracle, the so-called “pythias”, which later included performances of tragedies in addition to gymnastic and musical competitions. Cities from all over the Greek world at that time took part in the Pythias after Delphic ambassadors had previously announced a “holy truce” throughout the country.

Delphi (Sanctuary of Apollo)