An Unplanned Visit to Delphi, Greece

Seeking the Oracle in Delphi

On our fourth morning in Athens Wes logged into AirBnb and realized that we’d only booked four nights (instead of the five that we had thought) so we needed to check out in a couple of hours.  Oops! This left us with the choice of finding another place to stay in Athens so we could see some of the other sites there, or packing up and checking out a new destination. 

Our next planned stop had been Meteora we started looking for interesting places in between.  Delphi seemed to fit the bill perfectly so we packed our stuff and hit the road.  

The drive from Athens to Delphi was more scenic than we expected, taking us up into the mountains and even through a ski town.  Who knew there was skiing in Greece?  

Delphi holds an interesting place in Greek history; the Greeks considered it to be the center of the world.  It is certainly an impressive natural site, perched on a hillside with an expanse of olive trees spreading across the valley below, all the way to the sea.  Standing on the hillside it is not hard to see why the Greeks considered it a sacred place.

Delphi is best known for being the residence of the “Oracle of Delphi.”  The Oracle sat in the Temple of Apollo, and the god supposedly spoke through the Oracle as the Oracle breathed in fumes from a chasm beneath the temple.  Important people came from all over the empire and beyond to consult the Oracle on important decisions like whether or not to go to war or start a colony.

Modern historians have theorized that the Oracle attained a trance-like state by breathing in ethylene seeping up through the chasm, or perhaps by ingesting oleander or cannabis.  

The on-site museum contains many of the statues and other artifacts uncovered during excavations of the ancient city.  The collection includes monuments had been brought from distant places as gifts to the Oracle in order to get to the front of the line for prophesies. 

Tholos of Delphi

About a half mile away from the Temple of Apollo is a unique circular temple called Tholos.  We arrived right at sunset and enjoyed seeing the vibrant colors of the sunset reflected by the three remaining columns.

Greek Hospitality

After a couple of hours exploring the archaeological sites, we returned to the modern main street and found a wonderful family run Greek restaurant.  We love Greek cuisine so we were happy to eat our fill of moussaka, olives, tzatziki,  grilled chicken, and homemade goat yogurt with candied orange peel.

Summing Up

Sometimes a mistake can make things turn out for the better, and this was certainly the case in this instance.  Seeing the beautiful scenery around Delphi as well as the ancient ruins was a very worthwhile excursion.

Next time we continue north to explore the floating monasteries of Meteora, check back soon! 🙂