The short answer is that it’s magical… The long answer has a bit more than that.
Read on to see why YOU should make Delphi a priority on your bucket list.
A pilgrimage is not an uncommon piece of history. Many religions recommend or demand a pilgrimage in the formal sense. In the informal sense there are examples of this all the time. Cheryl Strayed took a sort of pilgrimage – or spiritual journey – when she hiked the Pacific Coast Trail in order to discover what she wanted out of her life. Many people take spiritual journeys in order to “find themselves.”
One of the most holy sites in the ancient Greek world was Delphi – a sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo. The site is found on Mt. Parnassus which is one of the reasons this city is so beautiful. The vast mountain views only enhance your time spent in this spiritual place. It was believed that an oracle resided here and could give spiritual guidance to the Greeks, making it one of the holiest sites in ancient Greece. Everyone from the heads of state to common people would make a pilgrimage to Delphi, and you should too.
Apollo was the god of light, harmony and knowledge. These three concepts people often search for in their life. This site, which was inhabited starting in 1500 B.C., is reminiscent of these traits. The Mediterranean is often a place of warm sunshine – something that can be admired as I think about cold winter months in the northern United States.
As you make your way through this sanctuary, you will start at the bottom and walk to the top. The main temple is dedicated to the god Apollo. You will also see treasuries, temples and even a theater. This theater has a stunning view overlooking the mountains.
Fun Fact: The Greeks had acoustics figured out. You can stand at the bottom of the theater and speak regularly to the crowd and an audience in the very top row will still hear you!
Unfortunately much of the temple to Apollo is no longer standing. It was originally built some time in 7th century B.C. An earthquake once destroyed it and it was completely rebuilt in 330 B.C., which are the remains we have today. From the size of these columns it’s apparent how massive and important this temple was.
At the very top of the sanctuary is the ancient track. This is where the Panhellenic games were held at Delphi every eight years. While most of it is overgrown now, even making it to the track is an impressive feat. Imagine the athletes who would compete here.
My favorite site in all of Delphi was just down the road from this sanctuary. It was part of a site dedicated to the goddess Athena. People traveling to Delphi often brought a gift to dedicate to this goddess before speaking to the oracle. It’s beautifully constructed and also overlooks the mountain range.
And of course we can’t forget the cats of Greece that accompany us everywhere!
Walk amongst these ancient ruins and just try to take it all in. While it only takes half a day to walk the ancient site, spend as much time here as you need. I spent most of my time trying to wrap my mind around how holy and important this sanctuary was to millions of people over hundreds of years.
Everyone should take a trip to Delphi because it’s good for the soul. It’s hard to even put into words how incredibly breath-taking this place is. I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself!