Delphi Archaeological Site




Tel. 22650 82312

Site Open:

Open: Apr- Oct 8am- 7:30pm daily

Nov- Mar 8:30am- 3pm


Apr- Oct 7:30am- 6:45pm

Nov- Mar 8:30- 3pm


Description of Delphi Archaeological Site

Delphi Archaeological Site is an ancient Greek archaeological site situated on Mount Parnassus overlooking the valley of Phocis below. Greek believed this was the location of a navel of the World. Ancient myths told a story of god Apollo who killed giant dragon Python that was known as a protector of this important site. Victorious Apollo became the new master of these lands. Pagan Greeks believed their god gave special powers to an Delphic oracle who could prophesize the future. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the predictions that once were made here. No new colony was found around a Mediterranean, no important political move was carried out without first consulting with the oracle. The belief in special powers of its place and pagan priests spread beyond the Greek World.


Prehistory - Mycenaean period
According to tradition, in the area of ​​Delphi there was a sanctuary dedicated to the female deity of Gaia and its guardian was the terrible dragon Python. According to local legends, Apollo became the lord of the sanctuary when he killed Python. The god, then transformed into a dolphin, transported the Minoans to the area, who founded his sanctuary. This myth of the reign of Apollo survived in festive representations on local festivals, such as Septoria, Delfinia, Thargilia, Theophania, and Pythia.

The oldest finds in the area of ​​Delphi have been found in the Korykeio Cave and date to the Neolithic era (4000 BC) From 4,000 BC. until the Mycenaean years (1550 BC) there are no findings, which indicates that the area probably remained uninhabited during this period. At the beginning of the Mycenaean period, Achaeans from Thessaly settled in the area of ​​Delphi and founded an organized city. Remains of a Mycenaean settlement and a cemetery have been found from this city. It is believed that it corresponds to the city mentioned in the list of the Iliad News, with the name Pythos. Pythos was one of the nine Phocian cities that participated in the Trojan War, alongside the rest of the Achaeans.

At the end of the Mycenaean period the city was abandoned, as were many other Mycenaean centers of mainland Greece. For the next four centuries no significant installations were observed in the area. The findings from the area remained minimal and very fragmentary until the 8th century BC, when the cult of Apollo finally prevailed and the development of the sanctuary and the oracle began. Towards the end of the 7th century BC. The first stone temples were built, one dedicated to Apollo and the other to Athena, who was officially worshiped under the name "Pronea" or "Providence" and had its own mosque. According to ancient testimonies and archeological findings, Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Hermes, Zeus Polyeus, Hygeia and Eilithia were also worshiped in Delphi.

Historical years
From the 8th century, when the cult of Apollo prevailed, the sanctuary of Delphi acquired a particularly important role in the ancient Greek world, while its influence gradually spread to a large part of the wider area of ​​the eastern Mediterranean. A significant number of shrines found in Delphi, even come from areas of Syria and Armenia, which testifies to the extent of the sanctuary's influence. Due to the great prestige of the oracle, the Greek cities resorted to it to help make important decisions. Typical is the case of colonization, where the metropolises resorted to the oracle to consult it, to choose a suitable place for the establishment of a colony. The sanctuary of Delphi gradually became the center of the most important Amphitryon of the ancient Greek world. This Amphitryon, which became known as the Delphic Amphitryon, was a federal union of twelve tribes with a mainly religious character. The tribes of central Greece participated in it and the Thessalians held a leading position among them. Initially it was centered in Anthili of Malida, but from the middle of the 7th century it made Delphi its center.

At the beginning of the 6th BC. century Delphi Amphitryon waged war with the neighboring city of Delphi, Krissa. This war was called the First Holy War and ended with the destruction of Krissa. As a result of the war, Delphi increased its pan-Hellenic religious and political influence and grew in size, acquiring lands that until then belonged to Krissa. At the same time, after the end of the war, Pythia was organized for the first time, the second most important pan-Hellenic games after the Olympics. In the first Pythians organized in 586 BC. were given as prizes to the winners of the games, cash gifts from the spoils of Krissa. From the following races, the laurel wreath was established as an honorary prize of the winners.

During the Persian Wars the oracle of Delphi issued several ominous oracles for the Greek cities, a fact which was attributed by later historians to a pro-Persian attitude that it maintained. Herodotus reports that Delphi was attacked by the Persians. Specifically, he mentions that after Xerxes passed Thermopylae and was heading towards Fokida, I sent a military corps to Delphi to extract treasures. When the Persians approached Delphi, two peaks from Parnassos were cut off and fell on them, while at the same time they were pursued by two local heroes, the Guardian and the Autonomous.


Delphi remained an independent city until 448 BC. when the Athenians helped Phocis to include the sanctuary in their federation. Then the Spartans reacted, resulting in the outbreak of the Second Holy War. The Spartans initially restored the city to its previous state but with a new intervention of the Athenians the city was returned to the Phocians. The Phocians maintained control of the oracle until 421 BC. This year the city of Delphi became independent again as a result of the Nicaean peace. In 356 BC. The Phocians occupied Delphi, when the amphitheater congress, which was then controlled by Thebes, imposed a heavy fine on them. This event led to the outbreak of the third holy war. During this war all the treasures of Delphi were looted to finance the Phocaean army. The Phocians were finally defeated ten years later with the intervention of Philip and Delphi returned to the control of the Delphic amphitheater which was now controlled by the Macedonians. A fourth holy war broke out in 339 BC. in which the Lokroi of Amfissa got involved and eventually led to the intervention of Philip in southern Greece.

During the 3rd c. e.g. Delphi came under the control of the new force that emerged in southern Greece, the Aetolian Confederation. The Aetolians occupied the sanctuary in 290 BC. A few years later, in 279 BC, the city of Delphi was in danger of being invaded by the Galatians in Greece. The Aetolians successfully faced this raid and protected the sanctuary. The city continued to thrive and enrich in gifts and tributes throughout this century. Most of the tributes of this period come from the cities of the Aetolian Confederation.

In 190 BC. the Romans removed from the Aetolians the dominion in the oracle of Delphi. A few years later, in 168 BC. Delphi came under Roman rule. During the Mithridatic Wars Delphi was plundered by the Roman general Sulla in 86 BC, who demanded and succeeded in granting him the precious metal votive offerings of the temple. In 83 BC, the Maidans, a Thracian tribe, raided Delphi, set fire to the temple, looted the sanctuary and stole the "lime fire" from the altar. During this raid, part of the roof of the sanctuary collapsed.

During the first Christian years the Oracle of Delphi had already declined. The focus of the few visitors was not so much the religious faith and the need for worship, as to admire the rich and imposing artistic architectures of the area. A relative flourishing of the oracle was observed again during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, who seems to have visited the oracle twice. The period of decline, however, continues in the years of Constantine the Great, and Constantine II.