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Parnassos, Delphi, the Stadium - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Delphi is an area with a strong tourism and has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Delphi was an ancient Greek city in which worked the most important oracle in the ancient world. The city is mentioned from Homeric times, named Pytho. At the beginning of historical times was one of the ancient cities of Phocis, but gradually the city's role was strengthened and developed at the national center and the holy city of the ancient Greeks. Was also the center of the Delphic Amphictyony. Delphi maintained their important position until the late 4th century AD, when it was finally clear to the oracle by decree of Emperor Theodosius A. Over the following centuries, the city declined and was finally abandoned in the period of the Slavic invasions.

According to tradition, in Delphi there was a temple sacred to Mother Gaea” and her guardian had placed the terrible serpent **Python. According to local legends, Apollo became the master of the sanctuary, when he killed Python. Then the god was transformed into a dolphin and transported at the area Cretans, who founded the sanctuary. This myth about the dominance of Apollo survived at festive representations in local festivals, such as Septiria, Delphinia,, Thargelia, Epiphany, and the Pythian Games.

The oldest finds in Delphi identified in Corycian Cave and date to the Neolithic period (4000 BC). From 4,000 BC until the Mycenaean period (1550 BC) there are findings indicating that the area probably remained uninhabited during this period. At the beginning of the Mycenaean period settled at Delphi Achaeans coming from Thessaly and founded an organized city. From this city have found a Mycenaean settlement and cemetery. It is believed to correspond to the city mentioned in the list of new Ilias, named Pytho. The city was one of nine Phocaean cities that participated in the Trojan war, alongside the other Achaeans.

By the end of the Mycenaean period the town was abandoned, like many other Mycenaean centers of the mainland. For the next four centuries, there are no significant settlement in the area. The findings from the region remained minimal and very fragmentary until the 8th century. BC, when it finally prevailed the worship of Apollo and began the development of the sanctuary and oracle. Towards the end of the 7th century. B.C. built the first stone temples of Apollo and another one of Athena, who officially venerated under the name "Pronaea" or "Welfare" and had her own sanctuary. According to ancient testimonies and archaeological findings, Delphi also worshiped Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Hermes, Zeus, Ygeia and Eileithyia.

From the 8th century, when most prevailed the worship of Apollo, the Temple of Delphi became particularly important role in the ancient Greek world, and its influence gradually spread to a large part of the wider area of the eastern Mediterranean. A considerable number of tributes found in Delphi comes even from regions of Syria and Armenia, which indicates the extent of the influence of the sanctuary. Due to the high prestige of the oracle, the Greek cities resorted to it to assist in making important decisions. Characteristic is the case of colonization, where the metropolitan cities resorted to the oracle to be consulted on the selection of appropriate location to establish a colony.

The sanctuary of Delphi gradually became the most important center of the Amphictyony of the ancient Greek world, This Amphictiony, became known as the Delphic Amphictyony and was a federal union of twelve tribes mainly of a religious nature. In this participated the tribes of central Greece and leader among them had the Thessalians. Originally the center was in Anthili, but by the mid-7th century did the center in Delphi.

At the beginning of the 6th century, Delphic Amphictiony conducted a war with the neighboring town of Delphi, the Crissa. This war was called A’ holy war and was ending with the destruction of Crissa. As a result of the war was Delphi to increase its religious and political influence and grow in size, acquiring lands that belonged to Crissa. While after the war were held for the first time the Pythian Games, the second most important games in Greece after the Olympics. In the first Pythian Games were held in 586 BC were given as prizes to the winners of competitions, cash prizes from the spoils of Crissa. From the next races established as honorary prize winners in laurel wreath.

During the Persian wars Delphi issued several ominous prophecies about the Greek cities, which is attributed by later historians in Persian attitude lasted. Herodotus says Delphi were attacked by the Persians. It states that once passed Thermopylae, Xerxes and headed towards Phocis, sent a military contingent to Delphi to wrest treasures. When the Persians approached Delphi, two peaks of Parnassus mountain excised and fell over them while persecuted by two local heroes Phylacos and Autonomus.

Delphi remained independent city until 448 BC when the Athenians helped the Phocaeans to integrate the sanctuary in the federation. Then the Spartans responded, with the result to begin the B’ holy war. The Spartans initially restored the city to its former state, but with renewed intervention of Athens, the city was given back to Phocaeans. The Phocaeans maintained control of divination until 421 BC. This year the city of Delphi became independent again as a consequence of Nikieias’ peace. In 356 BC the Phocaeans seized Delphi, when amphictionies conference, then controlled by Thebes, imposed to them a heavy fine. This led to the outbreak of the C’ holy war. During this war looted all the treasures of Delphi to finance the army of Phocaeans. The Phocaeans were finally defeated after ten years with the intervention of Philip, and Delphi passed again in control of the Delphic Amphictyony which is now controlled by the Macedonians. A D’ holy war broke out in 339 BC in which mixed the Locrians of Amfissa and eventually led to the intervention of Philip in southern Greece.

During the 3rd century. B.C., Delphi came under the new power that emerged in southern Greece, the Aetolian League. The Aetolians seized the sanctuary in 290 BC A few years later, in 279 BC, the city of Delphi was compromised by the invasion of the Gauls in Greece. This raid successfully dealt by the Aetolians and protected the sanctuary. The city continued to flourish and grow rich in gifts and tributes during this century. Most tributes this time coming from the cities of the Aitolian League.

In 190 BC Romans stripped from the Aetolians the sovereignty over the oracle of Delphi. A few years later, in 168 BC Delphi passed to Roman rule. During the Roman period, Delphi were plundered by Sulla in 86 BC.

In the 2nd century AD visited Delphi, Pausanias, who described in detail the site. His detailed description contributed significantly to the reconstruction of the site. The function of the oracle stopped in 394 by order of the Byzantine emperor Theodosius. With the prevalence of Christianity, Delphi became seat of a bishopric, but was abandoned in the early 7th century AD, during the Slavic invasions.

At a distance of 10 km, is situated the village of Arachova, giving access to Parnassus Mountain Ski Resort. Descending from Delphi to the sea, there is the beautiful city of Galaxidi.

(Translation from Wikipedia by C. Theodorou)

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on June 11, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Christos Theodorou
    • Camera: NIKON COOLPIX P510
    • Taken on 2013/04/21 11:08:59
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/320)
    • Focal Length: 5.30mm
    • F/Stop: f/6.900
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash