Sunday, 29 November 2015

Delphi - what we saw of it

There is nothing like coming back from a special trip to a landmark destination and found that you had missed half of what's there!  That happened with us at Delphi.  It took us two hours to get to Delphi from Athens because of traffic in the city and by the time we got there, it was late morning. We had booked a guide, even one with an archaeology degree.  She was very good guiding us through the museum first so that we would have a better context for our visit to the archaeological site but it was past noon by the time we got out to the site and it was a scorchingly hot day.  She then walked us through most of the Sanctuary of Apollo, all the way up to the amphitheatre, mentioning as she said goodbye that IF we go to the lower half of the site later, we would see more of the ruins.

When we finished that part of the site, it was mid-afternoon and we were tired and hungry. Our driver took us into the town for a leisurely lunch in a local restaurant serving "homecooking".  It was four o'clock by the time we finished.  We drove by the top part of the site but could not see much - as we were all tired we voted to pass on the site and headed back to Athens, hoping to avert another traffic jam.

When I started reading the book on Delphi I bought at the museum, I realized that we had only visited the part of the site west of the famous Spring of Kastalia, where "priests and votaries washed themselves before entering the temple".  That was the bigger part of the site but we had missed the entire Sanctuary of Athena and the very beautiful Tholos, the Gymnasium, and not to mention the famous Spring.  This is a good lesson learned - do the reading before the trip instead of after!

Still it was an exciting visit to Delphi, the part that we saw.  The museum was chock full of original marvels from the site and the climb up the Sacred Way all the way up to the well-preserved amphitheatre was as exhilarating as the climb up to the Stadium was exhausting. We didn't think we could do another hike down to "more ruins" - not knowing what we're missing.

Delphi was a site rich with votive offerings because of its powerful oracle, renowned through the then known world.  Suppliants came from all over with their offerings, often in gold and silver, making Delphi extremely wealthy.  Some of these offerings are found in the museum.

The entrance path to the museum seemed to echo the Sacred Way within the archaeological site

The Delphi Archaeological Museum

The famous Sphinx of the Naxians - head of a woman, wings of a bird and body of a lion - an offering from the citizens of Naxos meant to guard the Sacred place

Metopes from the site - the one below of Ares, Aphrodite and Artemis

The famous Charioteer, considered one of the masterpieces of ancient Greek art

Gold found at the site

Block from the outer wall of the Athenian treasury, incised with musical inscriptions, hymns to Apollo.  "These are the oldest written notation of a melody.  Between the verses, written in the Ionic alphabet, notes have been inscribed for both the choral and instrumental scores.  The music for the instruments (cithara, lyre, flute) was written in combinations of characters and punctuation." 
The reconstructed Athenian treasury

The beginning of the Sacred Way 

The Roman agora (marketplace)

Stoia of the Athenians

This retaining wall reminded me of the Inca stone walls in Peru
Inscriptions on the stone walls

Temple of Apollo


The Stadium at the top of the site 

The amphitheatre with the Temple of Apollo in front

Beautiful Delphi...until the next time!

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