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The Ancient Ruins of Delphi for Tourists
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  9/14/11
By: Yona Williams

As a tourist visiting Greece, you may want to stop by the ancient city of Delphi to visit the ruins that once played a significant role in Greek mythology. For example, Delphi was home of the Oracle, which the people believed delivered prophecies from the god Apollo. In this article, you will learn a bit about what attracts tourists to Delphi.

The ancient ruins of Delphi offer a widespread attraction to explore. One of the first places that tourists often visit is the museum. It is here that the former life of the ruins of Delphi is revealed. It helps you envision what the land looked like thousands of years ago. Below are a couple of the main attractions associated with the site:

Castalian Spring

Ancient pilgrimages took place in Greece and one of the first places that people stopped at on their way to the Sanctuary of Apollo was the sacred Castalian Spring. Found in a ravine in the Phaedriades mountains, the pilgrims would bath in the waters before entering the sacred region of Apollo. It was customary to wash your hair before entering, but if you were a murderer, the entire body was expected to be bathed. The spring is considered the oldest sacred site at Delphi and most likely was the reason why the temple of Apollo was built there in the first place.

The spring also played a role in the influence of the Pythia's oracles, as chemical vapors from the earth allowed the priestess to "speak the word of Apollo." There were two fountains that have survived to this day, which were connected to the sacred spring. The first is a fountain house with a basin lined with marble that was surrounded by benches. This feature dates back to 600 BC. The other was a Roman fountain that has niches meant for votive gifts.

Visitors to Delphi may travel the same path along the Sacred Way as ancient pilgrims did thousands of years ago. The path started at the southeast corner of the site and took travelers up the hillside. The road was filled with monuments and other sights found along the way to the Temple of Apollo. When the city was prosperous, treasury buildings, statues, and votive offerings took up every available space along the Sacred Way at Delphi. Significant cities would donate these treasures as a way to thank the Oracle for giving helpful advice – many words of wisdom that led to victory. Cities also liked to make their presence known at Delphi, since it was such an important fixture in ancient Greek times.

The Treasury of the Athenians

The Treasury of the Athenians was a remarkable sight that dates back to 490 BC. When Athens triumphed over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, they used their spoils to fund this building. Thanks to the advice given by the Oracle, the Athenians were able to make good use of the cryptic message involving 'wooden walls.' The military took the advice to mean the navy would play an important role in achieving victory. Greek inscriptions covered the walls of the treasury – many of which highlight music-related hymns paying homage to Apollo.

Temple of Apollo

The most important sight in Delphi is the Temple of Apollo, which dates back to the 4th century BC. The original structure was comprised of six columns on the front and 15 on the sides. Shields captured from the Persians at Plataea served as decoration for the exterior of the temple. One complete column of the façade and pieces of five more columns have survived to this day.


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