Where: Delphi, Central Greece
Founded: 1200 BC
Closed: 395 AD
Delphi was an important site of worship in ancient Greece and home to the Delphic oracle (The Pythia). Delphi was thought by the Greeks to be at the middle of the Earth and people from all over the ancient world would come to Delphi to seek the oracles advice. Delphi was also home to a major temple dedicated to the god Apollo and the Pythian Gameswhich were held every four years.
Delphi was most famous for its oracle. The oracle was always an older woman chosen from one of the peasants in the area. She would sit on a tripod over an opening in the Earth where she would fall into a deep trance allowing the god Apollo to take over her body. While in this trance the oracle would go into a “rave”and the priests of the temple would translate these ravings into elegant verses to the people who consulted the oracle.
Delphi prospered for centuries as people would erect statues and build temples in honour of Apollo and thanking the oracle. Among the more famous statues and buildings at Delphi were the Temple of Apollo built in the 4th century BC, the Treasury of Athens, the Ancient Theatre, the Tholos (see picture above), the Stadium, the Charioteer and more. Delphi was truly a place of riches.
During the early part of the 1st century BC barbarians burned the temple of Apollo and looted Delphi. The oracle and the surrounding area turned into decay. Delphi was looted again in 66 AD when Nero came to Greece and took away over 500 of the best statues and brought them back to Rome. Then in 395 AD Theodosius I ordered for Delphi’s closer due to its ties to pagan rituals. It wasn’t until 100 years later that Christians settled permanently and established the town of Kastri. Delphi would become buried and it wasn’t until in 1893 that the French Archaeological School uncovered Delphi that the site would be brought back to life.
Delphi – The Bellybutton of the Ancient World – BBC (full documentary):
Secrets at Delphi: