The next morning
we Owen enjoyed breakfast on the balcony of our apartment.
After a stop at the bakery, we got in the car and drove to Delphi, a little town perched high on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos. The drive was gorgeous and we got to see an airshow (much to everyone’s delight though I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, Owen or Alex).
Back in ancient times, Delphi was famous throughout the world as the home of a prophetess known as the oracle (aka the Pythia). The main attraction here are the ruins stuck to the side of a craggy mountain.
This cone-shaped monument, called an omphalos is what ancient folks believed marked the center of the world. From here the oracle would predict the course of human destiny!! Say what!?
The Treasury of Athenians was rebuilt in the early 1900s and they literally pieced it together like a puzzle, determining which block went where by matching up pieces of the inscriptions. I have a headache thinking about it.
The Temple of Apollo that I mentioned earlier is quite astonishing. It’s 2000 years old and perched on the side of a mountain that we drove our vehicle to. How the heck did the ancient guys and gals get here?! It’s in a stunning location and I could easily worship here but man that had to have been one heckofa hike.
The temple is where people went in to face the awe-inspiring oracle. Once they entered, the pilgrims would usually sacrifice an animal to Apollo (goats were popular). Rumor has it, a young Socrates came here and was so inspired by the phrase “Know Thyself” inscribed on the Temple that he pursued the path of self-knowledge…and changed the course of history.
The site is a 700-foot climb from top to bottom. The views at every point were breathtaking (if you had any breath left after the last 100-foot hike). Just above the Temple is a theater from the fourth century BC. where Apollo (the god of music) was honored, usually through song contests.
Not only is it home to the Temple of Apollo and the fortune-teller oracle channeling the god’s spirit, but it is also home to the Pythian Games (founded at least by 582 B.C.) stadium which sits at the top of the 700-foot climb on the mountain. The best view points were blocked off but you can get an idea of what the track looked like. After that hike up to the stadium, I can’t imagine the athletes’ times were any good…they were probably already exhausted.
Every four years, athletes and spectators from across Greece gathered here to watch all the same sports as at the ancient Olympics. The Pythian Games were second only to the Olympic Games in prestige. The stadium was built in the fifth century B.C. You can still see the spot in the bleachers where the judges sat at midfield (their stone seats were nicer than the others because they had seat backs…fancy). The stadium held 7000 and the track spans 580 feet long.
We trudged our way back down the mountain and got back in the car to head home. Owen is not (and never has been) a terribly happy camper in the car and it was getting close to his witching hour so we needed to scoot home to get him to bed.
The next day we mostly spent traveling. Check back for the post about our next stop in Greece!