Delphi Travel Guide
Tourists to the area are very well catered for, with its relentless flow of cars and buses filled with site seers wanting a taste of the local magic. The most popular site is, of course, Ancient Delphi where Zeus laid that most sacred of rocks. The ruins are truly awe-inspiring and the entire city has a mystical atmosphere that compares to no other archaeological site anywhere in the world. The sanctuary of Apollo is not only the most important area of the Ancient Town it also has the most spectacular location, overlooking a superb mountain vista and the valley below. It is here that the most powerful oracle in all Greece, The Delphic Oracle, is said to have worked her magic. A priestess of 50 years or more, she perched on a tripod at the entrance of a sacred chasm that emitted vaporous fumes. When approached with a question she would inhale the fumes and fall into a frenzy, speaking in tongues. The, seemingly unfathomable, utterances were then translated into a verse by a priest. The verse would contain the answer to the question.
Within the Sanctuary are some absolutely splendid ruins, dominated at the centre by the Doric Temple of Apollo with its Kastalian Fountain, in which people were cleansed prior to speaking to the Oracle. Along the Sacred Way that leads to the Doric Temple of Apollo are several treasuries that once held sacred offerings, the most impressive amongst them, the Athenian treasury, has been reconstructed. Truly spectacular views can be enjoyed from the wonderful 4th century BC theatre and the nearby stadium is the best preserved in all Greece. Although no one seems to know its function, the Tholos, a rotunda, is probably the most remarkable architectural construction in the Sanctuary. Next to it stands The Sanctuary of Athena, which is open to the public free of charge. The Sanctuary Museum is a treasure trove of wonders, all exclusively collected from around the ancient site. The Navel of The World is a Roman copy of the sacred stone of Zeus. There is the eerie Sphinx of Naxian that dates back to 550BC, a group of Thyiads (3 colossal female figures dancing around a column from the Sanctuary of Dionysus), statues of Antinous and Ahias, a bronze charioteer and the head of Dionysus.
Although most visitors come to Delphi to visit the ruins there is plenty to do in the region that surrounds the town. Mount Parnassos has two ski centres at Kelaria and Fterolaka. Climbing is also very popular and Parnassos can be scaled in a day but it is recommended that this is best attempted during July or August. The Coveyrean Cave of Sarantavli is another favourite destination. Filled with incredible stalagmite and stalactites it was once sacred place where ancient folk worshipped Pan and the Nymphs. There are a few good beaches too; of particular note are those at Aspra Spitia and Kira.
The town of Arahova is also worth a visit, with its fine local architecture, sturdy houses and narrow cobbled streets. Here there are abundant shops selling locally produced souvenirs – folk art, woven articles, woollen rugs and bags. And a visit to Arahova wouldn’t be complete without sampling the robust local red wine in one of the many tavernas. Gataxidi is a popular holiday spot set in a tiny fjord and filled with well-preserved striking architecture, although most of the visitors are Greek. Hrisso on the site of ancient Krisa is a wonderful village, filled with tall plane trees with magnificent views of the Amfissa olive groves and Eratini is a pleasant little fishing village and an ideal place for relaxing or bathing in the warm sea.
Greece is full of wonderful legendary places but nowhere else is the magic of those legends so all-pervading. The combination of breathtaking scenery, picture book villages and magnificent ruins lends Delphi and the region around Mount Parnassos a mystical air that is as addictive as it is inspiring.
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