DELPHI, the ‘NAVEL of the WORLD’

DELPHI, the ‘NAVEL of the WORLD’

As every seasoned traveller knows no two journeys are alike. A trip to Corinth and Delphi, both in classical Greece, is a travel back in time exploring the ruins evident with traces of human civilizations. However, `travel is more than the seeing of sites; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.` And sites such as Delphi and Corinth, being inhabited from the pre-historic times have shaped history and human lives, thereby contributing outstanding universal values and phenomenal influence to the present times.

Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Delphi is one of the world`s 100 most important influential locations in the course of civilization making it a must-visit destination.

A one-day guided bus tour of Delphi about 135 kms. north-west of the capital city, Athens, that includes entrance fees and lunch and with a fair amount of walking up and down the hills, provides a detailed visit of the archaeological site of Delphi and the museum.

Formerly called Pytho, Delphi is located in the upper central Greece on a plateau along the slope of Mt. Parnassus. Delphi is very much revered throughout the Greek world in antiquity as the centre of the earth and the universe, To the ancient Greeks Delphi is the `omphalos`: the centre, or navel, of the world. The Greeks used to believe in many gods and Delphi is considered as the holiest of the Greek cities.

Delphi is the site of the Delphi Oracle, the most famous of which if that of Apollo, the god of light, music and poetry, also the god of reason and the sun. Greek oracle is the religious priest or priestess, Pythia, who is believed to speak Apollo`s words and seats at the temple while giving out predictions of the future. Imagine yourself as one of those pilgrims travelling into the mountains of the holy city of Delphi and offering gifts to pay homage to the gods and seek the counsel of the oracle!

The archaeological site of Delphi consists of two separate sections: the sanctuary of Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom, and the sanctuary of Apollo.

The sanctuary of Athena has two ruined temples, ruined altars and treasures and the `Tholos. The Tholos is a rotunda encircled by two circles of twenty columns. The circular tholos, which originally has twenty doric columns, is dedicated to the goddess Athena.

The sanctuary of Apollo is more extensive and is covered with collections of ruins, monuments and altars.

The ruins of Delphi also reveals a well-preserved theatre with thirty-five tiers of seats. Right at the top of Delphi is the stadium, also wonderfully preserved, capable of seating 7,000 spectators. Here the Delphi games used to take place every four years.

The Delphi museum with the famous bronze Charioteer, the statue of Antinoos, and the Three Dancing Girls. is worth a visit.

On our way back to Athens we spent time for sight-seeing and shopping at a traditional Greek village, a small pretty town known as Arachova, with quaint houses built on mountain slopes, famous not only for its natural beauty but also for olives, handmade carpets and quilts. My wife picks up an area rug carpet!