“At the foot of Mount Parnassos, within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, lies the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. Delphi was regarded as the centre of the world. According to mythology, it is here that the two eagles sent out by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world met. The sanctuary of Delphi, set within a most spectacular landscape, was for many centuries the cultural and religious centre and symbol of unity for the Hellenic world. The history of Delphi begins in prehistory and in the myths of the ancient Greeks. In the beginning the site was sacred to Mother Earth and was guarded by the terrible serpent Python, who was later killed by Apollo. Apollo’s sanctuary was built here by Cretans who arrived at Kirrha, the port of Delphi, accompanied by the god in the form of a dolphin. This myth survived in plays presented during the various Delphic festivals, such as the Septerion, the Delphinia, the Thargelia, the Theophania and, of course. the famous Pythia, which celebrated the death of Python and comprised musical and athletic competitions.
The earliest finds in the area of Delphi, which date to the Neolithic period (4000 BC), come from the Korykeion Andron, a cave on Parnassos, where the first rituals took place. The remains of a Mycenaean settlement and cemetery were discovered within the sanctuary, but traces of occupation are rare and very fragmentary until the eighth century BC, when the cult of Apollo was established and the development of the sanctuary and the oracle began. The first stone temples of Apollo and Athena, who was also officially venerated under the name of “Pronaia” or “Pronoia” and had her own sanctuary, were built towards the end of the seventh century BC. According to literary and archaeological evidence other gods were associated with the sanctuary; these included Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Hermes, Zeus Polieus, Hygeia and Eileithyia.
The sanctuary was the centre of the Amphictyonic League, an association of twelve tribes of Thessaly and the Sterea (south-central Greece), with religious and later political significance. The Amphictyonic League controlled the operation and finances of the sanctuary, as it designated its priests and other officials chosen from among the inhabitants of Delphi. In the sixth century BC, under the League’s protection and administration, the sanctuary was made autonomous (First Sacred War), it increased its territory and political and religious influence throughout Greece, and reorganised the Pythian Games, the second most important games in Greece after the Olympics, which were held every four years.
Between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, the Delphic oracle, which was regarded as the most trustworthy, was at its peak. It was delivered by the Pythia, the priestess, and interpreted by the priests of Apollo. Cities, rulers and ordinary individuals alike consulted the oracle, expressing their gratitude with great gifts and spreading its fame around the world. The oracle was thought to have existed since the dawn of time. Indeed, it was believed to have successfully predicted events related to the cataclysm of Deukalion, the Argonaut’s expedition and the Trojan War; more certain are the consultations over the founding of the Greek colonies. It was the oracle’s fame and prestige that caused two Sacred Wars in the middle of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. In the third century BC, the sanctuary was conquered by the Aetolians, who were driven out by the Romans in 191 BC. In Roman times, the sanctuary was favoured by some emperors and plundered by others, including Sulla in 86 BC.
The rise of the Rationalist movement in philosophy in the third century BC, damaged the oracle’s authority, yet its rituals continued unchanged into the second century AD, when it was consulted by Hadrian and visited by Pausanias. The latter’s detailed description of the buildings and more than three hundred statues has greatly contributed to our reconstruction of the area. The Byzantine emperor Theodosius finally abolished the oracle and the Slavs destroyed the precinct in 394 BC. With the advent of Christianity, Delphi became an episcopal see, but was abandoned in the sixth-seventh centuries AD. Soon after, in the seventh century AD, a new village, Kastri, grew over the ruins of the ancient sanctuary, attracting in modern times several travellers interested in antiquities.
Archaeological research in Delphi began in 1860 by Germans. In 1891, the Greek government granted the French School at Athens permission for long-term excavations on the site. It is then that the village of Kastri was removed to allow for the so-called “Great Excavation’ to take place. The Great Excavation uncovered spectacular remains, including about three thousand inscriptions of great importance for our knowledge of public life in ancient Greece. Today, the Greek Archaeological Service and the French School at Athens continue to research, excavate and conserve the two Delphic sanctuaries. Of all the monuments, only the Treasury of the Athenians had enough of its original building material preserved to allow for its almost complete reconstruction. The project was financed by the City of Athens and carried through by the French School in 1903-1906. The Chiot altar, the temple of Apollo and the Tholos were also partially restored. In 1927 and 1930, the poet Angelos Sikelianos and his wife, Eva, attempted to revive the Delphic idea and make of Delphi a new cultural centre of the earth, through a series of events that included performances of ancient theatre.”
“The archaeological site of Delphi includes two sanctuaries, dedicated to Apollo and Athena, and other buildings, mostly intended for sports. Visitors arriving from Athens first encountered the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia – that is, ?Athena who is before the temple? (of Apollo). Outside its walls spread the settlement of Delphi. Within the walls were the famous Tholos, the symbol of Delphi today, and the remains of three temples dedicated to the goddess. The two earlier temples were built of tufa on the same location. These date to the middle of the seventh century and to c. 500 BC. The third temple, made of limestone, was built at the west end of the sanctuary after the earthquake of 373 BC. This sanctuary also includes the altars of Zeus Polieus, Athena Ergane, Athena Zosteria, Eileithyia and Hygeia, the remains of two buildings dedicated to the cult of the local heroes Phylakos and Autono?s, who routed the Persians from Delphi, and two treasuries with marble roofs, one Doric and the other Aeolian. The Aeolian Treasury of Massalia preserves a characteristic palm-leaf capital. Finally, the sanctuary included a memorial to the routing of the Persians, a statue of Emperor Hadrian, and a building known as the ?house of the priests?.
To the northwest of the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia lay the gymnasium, a place for exercise and learning, the palaestra and the baths. Further up the slope was the Castalian spring, the sacred spring of Delphi, were travellers quenched their thirst after a long voyage and purified themselves before consulting the oracle.
The central, most important part of the site was the sanctuary of Apollo, which was surrounded by the usual peribolos, or enclosure wall, with a main gate at its southeast corner. From here visitors entered the Sacred Way, the street that led to the temple of Apollo with its famous adyton, where Pythia delivered her oracles. With the temple and the Sacred Way as its centre, the sanctuary grew larger, spreading over artificial terraces supported by monumental walls, bordered by porticoes (of Attalus, of the Aetolians, of the Athenians) and accessed through corresponding gates in the enclosure wall. Scattered among these buildings and along the Sacred Way were numerous votive monuments dedicated by Greek cities or wealthy individuals on the occasion of socio-political events, or simply to express gratitude to the god and his oracle. These monuments are representative of artistic achievement from the East to the coasts of the Mediterranean and indicate the wealth of their patrons. They vary from bronze and silver tripods (one of the oracle’s symbols) to complex groups of sculptures in bronze or marble. The luxurious and impressive, however small, votive buildings known as treasuries were used for storing smaller votive offerings, but above all for displaying the art and splendour of the city which commissioned them. The imposing temple of Apollo dominated the sanctuary from atop a large terrace supported by a remarkable polygonal wall. In front of its entrance visitors could admire a series of impressive votive monuments dedicated mostly by wealthy individuals. Above the temple is the theatre where the theatrical and musical contests of the Pythian Games took place, while even higher up the slope, beyond the sacred enclosure, lies the stadium where the athletic contests were held.
Outside and around the two sanctuaries are the remains of the settlement and cemeteries of Delphi, which developed mainly in the Classical and Roman period.”
The tholos of Athena Pronaia
“The tholos of the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, clearly visible from above, is perhaps the most characteristic monument at Delphi and the most important building of this small sanctuary. Located between the later temple of Athena and the Treasury of Massalia, this circular building of unknown purpose is a masterpiece of Classical architecture. It is thought to have been connected with chthonic cults, although Pausanians, who saw its ruins in the second century AD, does not refer to it as a temple.
According to Vitruvius, this impressive building was raised in 380 BC on plans by the architect Theodoros of Phocea or Phocis, who even wrote a book about the way it was built. The tholos is a synthesis of most styles of Classical architecture. It rests on a three-stepped podium and the twenty Doric columns of the outer peristyle supported a Doric frieze of triglyphs and metopes with relief decoration. Inside the cella were ten engaged Corinthian columns. A variety of materials were used in order to achieve a multi-coloured effect: Parian and Pentelic marble, and blue Eleusinian limestone for the structural details, the base of the cella wall, and the floor. The marble ceiling comprised lozenge-shaped coffers, of which several are preserved. The probable conical roof was decorated with acroteria in the shape of women, in a dance-like pose; its reconstruction remains problematic, particularly after the recent discovery of two rows of water-spouts. The building’s relief decoration was disfigured by Christians in later years.
The tholos was partially restored in 1938. Several architectural members and the surviving sculptures were restored and are now on display in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.”
Temple of Apollo at Delphi
“The temple of Apollo, the most important building in the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, dominates the temenos from its central position. This is where the statues and other offerings to the god were kept, and where the cult rituals, including that of divination, took place. Also, here was the chresmographeion, or archive, destroyed in 373 BC, which contained the lists of victors of the Pythian games.
According to the legend, the first temple of Apollo at Delphi was made of laurel branches, the second of beeswax and feathers, and the third of bronze, while the fourth was built by the legendary architects Trofonios and Agamedes aided by Apollo himself. This was probably the stone temple destroyed by fire in 548 BC. Its replacement, built with contributions by both Greeks and non-Greeks, was completed around 510 BC by the Alkmaeonid family of Athens. This was a Doric peristyle temple, with six columns at the end and fifteen at the sides. Stone-built and marble-clad, it was sumptuously decorated with sculptures by the famous artist Antenor. The east pediment depicted Apollo’s epiphany when he arrived at Delphi with his sister Artemis and his mother Leto; the chariot of the gods occupied the centre of the scene and was framed by male and female figures. Of the west pediment, which depicted the Gigantomachy, only the figures of Athena, a fallen giant, a male figure and two horses have survived.
This temple was destroyed by earthquake in 373 BC. The existing temple, also built with Greek contributions, was not completed until after the Third Sacred War, in 330 BC. This imposing Doric temple was raised by the architects Spintharos from Corinth, Xenodoros and Agathon. It has the same plan and roughly the same dimensions as its predecessor, with six columns at the end and fifteen at the sides, and both prodomos and opisthodomos in antis. The cella was divided into three naves by two colonnades of eight Ionic columns each. The divination ceremony took place in the adyton, or inner shrine, an underground chamber where only the priests interpreting Pythia’s words had access. The pedimental sculptures of Parian marble are the work of the Athenian sculptors Praxias and Androsthenes. The east pediment depicted Apollo and the Muses, and the west Dionysus and the Maenads. Little is known of the arrangement of the temple’s interior; ancient writers mention that the walls of the pronaos were inscribed with aphorisms of the seven sages, such as ‘know thyself’, ‘everything in moderation’ and the letter E. There was a bronze effigy of Homer and an altar of Poseidon, and, in the adyton, a statue of Apollo and the omphalos.
The temple has been partially restored. Fragments of the pedimental sculptures of both the Archaic and the Classical/Hellenistic temple are displayed in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.”
Treasury of the Athenians
“The Treasury of the Athenians is one of the most important and impressive buildings of the temenos of Apollo. Standing next to the bouleuterion, seat of the Delphic senate, and opposite the treasuries of the Knidians and the Syracusans, it dominated the Sacred Way. This small building contained trophies from important Athenian victories and other votive objects dedicated to the sanctuary.
The treasury, which was built by the Athenian republic in the late sixth or early fifth centuries BC, is thought to express the victory of democracy over tyranny. A slightly different interpretation, based on Pausanias’s description, states that the treasury commemorated the battle of Marathon of 490 BC, when the Athenian army repelled the Persians.
The treasury, a small, Doric building in Parian marble, is shaped like a temple in antis, as are most treasuries. Its relief decoration is a remarkable example of late Archaic sculpture, comparable in elegance, lightness of the analogies, vigorous, solid movement and daring stances to early Attic Red Figure vase painting. The frieze depicts the exploits of Hercules (back and north facade) and of Theseus (front and south facade). The juxtaposition of the two heroes symbolizes the change of regime and the establishment of democracy in Athens. Indeed, Theseus became a prevalent subject in fifth century BC iconography, while Hercules dominated sixth century art. The building stands on a terrace whose south and main fa?ades, those dominating Sacred Way, end in a triangular buttress. This is where the Athenians exposed the spoils from the battle of Marathon and other trophies kept inside the treasury during great festivals and processions.
Several inscriptions on the building’s walls inform us on ancient festivals and customs, namely the Pyrphoria, the Tripodiphoria, the Pythais and the Dodecais, the four official processions of the Athenians at Delphi. Another inscription near the eastern corner of the south wall is extremely useful for the study of ancient music, since it contains two unique hymns to Apollo, the only extant Greek texts with musical annotations, now on display in the Delphi Archaeological Museum. Inside the treasury, are inscriptions containing important honorary decrees dating from the third century BC and later, as well as the names of pawnbrokers who used the premises in later years.
The Treasury of the Athenians was the only Delphic monument that still preserved much of its ancient fabric in the early twentieth century, and so was re-erected by the French School in 1906 with funds granted by the mayor of Athens, Spyros Merkouris. The original frieze is in the Delphi Archaeological Museum, the sculptures in situ being casts.”
The polygonal wall of Delphi
“This remarkable polygonal wall supports the platform on which stands the Temple of Apollo, and defines the area of the Halos, or threshing floor, to the north-west. It was raised in the second half of the sixth century BC, probably after the destruction of the first temple in 548 BC and before the construction of the Alkmaionides temple in 513-505 BC. The fifth century BC Stoa of the Athenians was built against this wall, and traces of it are visible on the wall’s surface. Prior to the construction of the wall, the area was leveled and several early Archa?c buildings and treasuries, including the famous apsidal structure, were destroyed or buried under fill.
The wall is built in polygonal Lesbian-style masonry, with irregular interlocking blocks with curved joints. In plan it is Pi-shaped, its main face ninety metres long. The upper four or five courses consisted of isodomic masonry, now missing; the wall was originally approximately two metres taller that it is today. Its dressed face was covered in the third and second centuries BC with more than eight hundred inscriptions related above all to the emancipation of slaves.
The wall was conserved in recent years.”
The Treasury of the Siphnians
“The treasury dedicated by the people of Siphnos was one of the most opulent monuments in the temenos of Apollo. Built near the beginning of the Sacred Way, next to the Treasury of the Sikyonians and opposite that of the Megarians, it housed the precious votive offerings dedicated by the Siphnians to the sanctuary.
According to Herodotus and Pausanias, Siphnos drew great wealth from its gold and silver mines and in the second half of the sixth century BC was the most prosperous of the Greek islands. The Siphnians decided to dedicate the tithe of their profits to Apollo and thus built the treasury. The monument’s sculptural decoration is dated on stylistic grounds to 525 BC, or a little earlier, since that year Siphnos was looted by Samians in need of money.
The Siphnian Treasury is a small building in the shape of a temple, made entirely of expensive Parian marble, unlike most contemporary buildings, which were made of poros. Already in Herodotus’s time it was renowned both for its unique beauty and its opulent sculptural decoration, which indeed is a masterpiece of late Archaic art. On the fa?ade, between the two antae, instead of columns, were two korai, exquisite examples of the Ionic art of this period. The architrave is decorated with an Ionic kymation and a frieze on all four sides. On the west side the frieze depicts the judgement of Paris, on the south the rape of the Leukippidai by the Dioskouroi, on the north and best preserved section of the frieze the Gigantomachy, and on the east, the main fa?ade, an assembly of Olympian gods watching the Trojan War. The robust expression, clarity of form, powerfulness of the figures and intricate detail serve the decorative character of the frieze, the sensitive arrangement and exploitation of the surface. The east pediment has retained its sculptures, which depict a favourite theme to both sculptors and vase painters in the late Archaic period, namely the dispute between Hercules and Apollo over the Delphic tripod. The pediment is crowned by three acroteria, the central one depicting a sphinx and the lateral ones a pair of Victories.
Of the Siphnian Treasury, only the foundations and one of the astragals decorating the base are in situ. The surviving sculptural decoration has been conserved and is displayed in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.”
The Stoa of the Athenians
“The stoa is among the important votive offerings dedicated to the sanctuary by the Athenians. It occupied a central position, below the great temple, in front of the imposing polygonal terrace wall and opposite the Halos, or threshing floor, where plays honouring Apollo were staged. The stoa was used for storing the war spoils, mostly from naval victories against the Persians, dedicated by the Athenians.
The stoa was part of the building program of Perikles. It was built in 478 BC, after the Athenians destroyed the pontoon bridge assembled by Xerxes across the Hellespont in an attempt to reach the European shore. Indeed, an inscription on the top step of the base records the Athenian dedication of the stoa, and of cables (from the bridge) and figureheads (from Persian ships). More spoils of ships from naval battles including those at Mykale, Sestos, Salamis and the Hellespont, were added in subsequent years.
The stoa, a long covered space, was built against the polygonal terrace wall. It consisted of a three-stepped limestone base supporting an Ionic colonnade of eight monolithic, fluted columns in Pentelic marble with bases of Parian marble, and a row of engaged pillars leaning against the terrace wall. The roof was made of timber. Inside, a stone-built podium held a display of votive offerings.
The surviving lower part of the monument has been restored.”
Ancient theatre of Delphi
“The theatre of Delphi, one of the few theatres in Greece for which we know the exact date and design, is located inside the temenos of Apollo and against the north-east corner of its peribolos, or enclosure wall. This is where the musical contests (song and instrumental music) of the Pythian games and other religious festivals took place, which made this theatre the intellectual and artistic equivalent to the athletic stadium at Olympia.
The theatre’s original form is unknown; it is possible that the spectators sat on wooden seats or on the ground. The first stone-built theatre was built in the fourth century BC and was subsequently refurbished several times. The theatre’s present form, with its stone-paved orchestra, stone seats and decorated stage, is the result of a 160/159 BC restoration sponsored by Eumenes II of Pergamon. The cavea, built partly on bedrock (to the north and west) and partly on fill (to the south and east), is divided into two uneven sections by a paved diazoma, or landing (twenty seven tiers of seats in the lower section and seven in the upper). It is also divided vertically by a series of staircases into six and seven cunei for the upper and lower sections respectively. The theatre could seat five thousand spectators. The horse-shoe-shaped orchestra is surrounded by an enclosed conduit; its pavement and parapet are Roman. Inscriptions relevant to the emancipation of slaves are embedded in the walls of the parodoi, but their texts have become illegible through wear. The stage, of which only the foundations remain, was probably divided into the proscenium and the stage proper; its front was adorned with a relief frieze depicting the Labours of Hercules.
Although excavated and restored, the theatre is in a poor condition: the cavea has subsided, the limestone blocks are cracking and flaking, and many of its architectural members (seats and blocks of the parodoi walls) remain scattered throughout the temenos.”
The Sacred Way
“The so-called Sacred Way was the main road leading from the entrance of the temenos to the altar of the Chians and the imposing temple of Apollo. It had a ritual and processional character, since it guided pilgrims and visitors through the sacred precinct. The theopropoi – those wishing to consult the oracle – ascended the Sacred Way on the ninth day of each month, sacrificed an animal on the altar situated at the top and were alloted their place in the queue. The citizens of Corinth, Naxos, Chios and Thebes, and some illustrious individuals, such as Philip II of Macedon, had received promanteia, or right of prior consultation, and so did not have to wait for their turn.
The Sacred Way, which originated in the Archaic period, was paved in the Late Roman period with slabs taken from abandoned nearby buildings, at a time when houses occupied the sacred precinct. Visitors to the archaeological site still take this same route, which zig-zags up the hillside for two hundred metres until it reaches the monumental altar. The road was lined with statues, podiums and treasuries with each city’s votive offerings. These monuments usually commemorated important events – political alliances, important victories in the Delphic games or military victories, but some were dedicated to the god in gratitude for an oracle or for his favour over a city, family or individual. Votive sculptures stood along the first stretch of road, treasuries along the second, while in front of the temple and of the altar were important votive monuments dedicated by wealthy individuals and city-states, such as the monument commemorating the Greek victory at Plataea.”
Ancient gymnasium of Delphi
“The remains of the gymnasium are on the steep slope between the Castalian fountain and the temple of Athena Pronaea. This is one of the most complete examples of an ancient gymnasium complex, which included the gymnasium proper, a palaestra and baths.
The gymnasium dates to the fourth century BC, but was rebuilt in the Roman period, when the baths were added to it. Originally it was used exclusively for training athletes. Track and field were practiced inside the gymnasium proper, with events like wrestling, boxing and the pankration taking place inside the palaestra. However, in the Hellenistic period the gymnasium became a centre for intellectual development and housed cultural events, including lectures by orators, sophists, philosophers and poets.
The gymnasium is built on two levels. On the upper terrace is the xystos, or covered colonnade, seven metres wide and a hundred and seventy eight metres long, where the athletes practiced in bad weather, with a open air, six metres wide parallel track. In the fourth century BC, the xystos had a Doric limestone colonnade, the fa?ade of which was replaced by an Ionic marble one in Roman times. The xystos, which owes its name to the fact that its floor had to be regularly scraped and leveled (xystos=scraped), was recently cleared in its entire length. The lower terrace is occupied by the palaestra, a court twelve metres square surrounded by a colonnade and rooms on all four sides. Inscriptions in each of these rooms state their use: ball court, changing room, wrestling pit, and possibly a sanctuary of Hermes or Hercules. The court was used for wrestling or boxing practice. West of the palaestra is a circular (cold) pool, ten metres in diameter and 1.80 metres deep. A series of douche baths for the athletes, consisting of faucets which poured water from the Castalian spring into ten communicating clay basins is in the retaining wall at the back. The hot baths to the west are a Roman (AD 120) addition.
Several centuries later the gymnasium precinct was occupied by a Byzantine monastery; its main church, built on top of the palaestra, was demolished in 1898 by the excavators. During a visit to Delphi, Lord Byron inscribed his name on one of the Doric columns re-used in the monastery.”
The Castalian fountain
“The Castalian spring was the sacred source of Delphi, and its water played an important role in the cult and procedure of the temple and of the oracle. This is where Pythia, the priests and the temple staff washed, and where the water used to clean the temple came from. The theopropoi – those wishing to consult the oracle – were also obliged to wash here in order to purify themselves.
The Castalian spring is located at the foot of the rocky crag Phleboukos (ancient Hyampeia), inside the ravine separating the two Phaedriades. Its waters form a stream, the so-called Arkoudorema, which runs into the Pleistos valley where, according to a myth, the Python had its lair. Water was also channeled to the homonymous fountain situated between the temenos of Apollo and the ancient gymnasium.
The Castalian fountain was originally built around 600-590 BC near the ancient route, and was refurbished several times since. Still visible today on the modern roadside, this so-called Lower Castalia is a rectangular structure of 8.20 by 6.64 metres enclosing a rectangular stone-built basin with a system of pipes and spouts. In front of the basin is a paved terrace with stone benches, reached by a small staircase. The water was channeled from the spring by a rock-cut subterranean pipe.
The later Castalian fountain, which dates to the first century BC and is located approximately fifty metres uphill, closer to the spring, is the one described by Pausanias. The fountain was built inside a rock-cut hollow eleven metres long by twelve and a half metres high, supplied with niches for the votive offerings to the nymph Castalia. The largest of these niches became a chapel of Saint John the Baptist in the Post-Byzantine period. Under the niches is an elongated rock-cut basin, ten metres long by half a metre wide, which was covered and had an opening for cleaning at one end. A closed pipe supplied the water. On the basin’s fa?ade were seven bronze spouts separated by seven engaged rock-cut columns. In front of the basin was a paved terraced with stone benches, accessed from above by eight steps.
The later fountain was excavated by S. Dragatsis and E. Kastorchis in 1878, and the Lower Castalia by A. Orlandos in 1960. Both monuments have been conserved and restored.”
Ancient stadium of Delphi
“The stadium of Delphi is one of the best-preserved monuments of its kind. It is situated north-west of the theatre, above the sanctuary of Apollo, in the highest part of the ancient city. It was reached in antiquity, like today, by a path winding up from the theatre’s left parodos. The stadium is closely connected to the history of the Pythian games, since this is where the athletic events took place.
The original stadium dates to the fifth century BC, as attested by an inscription in the south terrace wall, and had either wooden seats or no seats at all. The existing seats, made of Parnassus limestone – and not of white marble as mentioned by Pausanias, were built in the second century AD by Herodes Atticus, a wealthy Athenian sophist, together with the triumphal arch which decorated the entrance. The latter is a unique feature in ancient Greek stadiums.
The stadium was built into the natural slope, its north side cut into the rock, its south side artificially supported by a walled terrace. The monumental entrance to the east consisted of a triple arch supported by four pillars, the two middle ones having niches for statues. This is where the judges and athletes of the Pythian games entered the stadium under the acclamations of the audience. Behind the entrance is a rock-cut podium with five steps from an earlier building phase, and the remains of a fountain. The track is length one Roman stade long – that is one hundred and seventy-seven and a half metres, and twenty five and a half metres wide. Both the starting-point (aphesis) and finishing post (terma) had stone sills with cavities for the athlete’s feet and for the wooden posts, which separated them. The stadium is hairpin-shaped, with two parallel blocks of seats and a semicircular sphendone at the western end. The seats rise 1.30 metres above ground. On the north side is a rectangular tribune where the judges sat in benches with backs. The north side has twelve tiers of seats, while the south side had only six because of the steep slope; both are divided by staircases. The stadium accommodated five hundred spectators.
Although this monument has been conserved and restored, much of the south terrace wall has subsided and must be reconstructed where the building material remains in situ.”
The votive offering of Daochos
“The votive offering of Daochos is one of the richest and finest private offerings dedicated to the Delphi sanctuary. It stood to the northeast of the temple of Apollo, on an elongated stone base, near the offerings of the Aetolians, the Phoceans and the Deinomenides.
This monument was dedicated by Daochos II of Pharsala who was tetrarch of Thessaly, which he represented as hieromnemon at the Amphictyonic League in 339-334 BC. His dealings with the Delphic sanctuary probably led him to dedicate this monument in honour of his family, several members of which were brilliant athletes and winners at the Delphic games. The monument was probably dedicated around 337 BC. The influence of Philip II of Macedon and a personal acquaintance of Daochos, over both the Delphic amphictyony and Thessaly, homeland of Daochos, was intensifying during this period.
The monument, which is attributed to the famous sculptor Lysippos or his school, consists of a large plinth on which nine marble statues stood. The group is identified from the surviving inscriptions on the plinth, which mention the names and achievements of each figure. The succession of statues began on the right with a figure of Apollo seated on an omphalos. This was followed by six statues of Daochos’s ancestors, beginning with the founder of the house, Aknonios, who presents his family to the god: first his three sons, Agias, an athlete of the pankration, several times victorious in the Greek games, Telemachos, a wrestler, and the youngest, Agelaos, a runner. All three were winners in their respective events in the Pythian games in the same year. They are followed by Daochos I, son of Agias, and his son, Sisyphos I, father of the dedicator, who according to the inscription was renown for his military career. The statues of Daochos II himself and of his son, Sisyphos II, complete the group.
The five surviving statues and the base of this well-preserved monument are in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.”
Delphi Archaeological Museum
“The Archaeological Museum of Delphi, one of the most important in Greece, exhibits the history of the Delphic sanctuary, site of the most famous ancient Greek oracle. Its rich collections are comprised primarily of architectural sculpture, statues and minor objects donated to the sanctuary. These reflect its religious, political and artistic activities from its early years in the eight century BC to its decline in Late Antiquity.
The museum is housed in a two-storey building with a total surface area of 2270 square metres, with fourteen exhibition rooms, 558 square metres of storerooms and conservation laboratories for pottery, metal objects and mosaics. A new lobby, cafeteria and gift shop were created during the museum’s latest refurbishment.
The museum is overseen by the Tenth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.”
Delphi, Τ.Κ. 33054, Delphi (Prefecture of Fokida)
Telephone: +30 22650 82313, +30 22650 82346, +30 22650 82312(Μουσείο)
Fax: +30 22650 82966
Full: €6, Reduced: €3
Special ticket package: Full: €9, Reduced: €5
Valid for: Delphi, Delphi Archaeological Museum
Free admission days
- 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri
- 5 June (International Enviroment Day)
- 18 April (International Monuments Day)
- 18 May (International Museums Day)
- The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
- Sundays in the period between 1 November and 31 March National Holidays
- The first Sunday of every month, except for July, August and September (when the first Sunday is holiday, then the second is the free admission day.)
- 27 September, International Tourism Day
Winter: Daily: 8.30 – 15.00 (Last admission 14.40)
- 1 January: closed
- 6 January: 08:30 – 15:00
- Shrove Monday: 08:30 – 15:00
- 25 March: closed
- Good Friday: 08:30 – 12:00
- Holy Saturday: 08:30 – 15:00
- 1 May: closed
- Easter Sunday: closed
- Easter Monday: 08:30 – 15:00
- Holy Spirit Day: 07:30 – 19:00
- 15 August: 07:30 – 19:00
- 28 October: 07:30 – 19:00
- 25 December: closed
- 26 December: closed
Reduced admission for:
- Citizens of the E.U. aged over 65
- Students from countries outside the E.U.
Free admission for:
- Members of the ICOM-ICOMOS
- Persons possessing a free admission card
- Persons under 19
- Soldiers carrying out their military service
- Tour guides
- University students from Greece and the E.U.
Source: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism