Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Temple of Apollo at ancient Delphi

In the afternoon we docked at Itea, our destination, Delphi. Our 20-minute bus ride took us over a plain covered with over two million olive trees, and then up onto the slopes of Mount Parnassus. In ancient times Delphi was considered the centre of the known world, the place where heaven and earth met. In mythology, Delphi was the meeting place of the two eagles released by Zeus and sent in opposite directions. Where they met indicated the centre of the earth. Athletes from all over Greece met here every four years to compete in the Pythian Games, one of the precursors of the Olympics.

In antiquity Delphi was one of the the world's most important religious centres. The Sanctuary of Apollo attracted pilgrims who came to consult the Oracle, Pythia. The spot has a natural  beauty combined with ancient ruins creating an aura of mystery around it even today. Pythia"s ambiguous prophecies were known and respected all over the ancient world.

There was lots to see including the best preserved stadium in Greece and the Castalian Spring where the pilgrims washed before they consulted the oracle. In the museum we saw the Omphalos, which marked the centre of the world and the magnificent bronze Charioteer, one of the finest pieces surviving from the 5th century BC.

By now it was raining and we were glad to return to the yacht. Fortunately, we had missed rains that had caused considerable flooding in Athens.

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