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Magical Delphi

Author: sylvia noel douglas
Date of Trip: March 2013

We love to travel. We even have a travel motto: travel safe, travel light and travel happy. Our absolute favorite place to visit is Greece. We cannot get enough of the amazing food, friendly people and the history. Our passion is ancient sites. Our favorite: Delphi. It has always been and will always be magical.

It was said that the Zeus wanted to find the exact center or navel of mother earth Gaea. He released two eagles and when they flew around the world the exact place they met was Delphi the navel of the earth.

Long before the first temples were built it was a sacred place. In ancient times it was very important: it had temples, an amphitheater and a stadium. It was called the navel of the Earth. The actual carving of the representative navel is lost but they have a replica. It has twisted rope designs somewhat like a fishing net that represents the “no man is an island” every nation is entwined…..

One thing I found out that I found amazing was that the priestess who was the oracle was a simple village woman who was older and led a blameless life. The floor of the Temple of Apollo had a chasm that had gas and fumes coming up. It is speculated that the Oracle women would breathe the fumes and go into a trance and babble things… the priests then interpreted the babbling into replies : the replies were more advice than predictions… and the advice was sometimes difficult to interpret.

The Oracle of Delphi was famous for her cryptic prophecies. She told poor Oedipus he would kill his father and marry his mother…. Yikes….. job security for Freud for years. A second famous prophecy was given to Croesus: he was told that if he embarked on war against neighboring Persia he would destroy a mighty empire…. he did destroy a mighty empire: his own. The oracles were considered truthful. This is probably because the advice was sound and the priests were well informed of “world” news.

On the path (Sacred Way) going to the Temple of Apollo, there were a bunch of “bases” stacked row on row. When Nero, the Roman emperor invaded they estimated he took over 5000 statues from Delphi. This was proven by the empty “bases” and plaques that he left behind…. this pillage is how Rome got so many Greek antiquities… The victors of war took what they wished…. (that’s the rules)

The museum was amazing. They had several of the pillars and fronts from the temples. The statues from the temple were 10 feet high. They were so detailed. The rainspouts for the temples were lions with their mouths open … often made from terracotta. Neat details…

They also had the sphinx from 570 BC (it looked like the sphinx in the movie “The Never Ending Story” ) it was easily 17 feet tall. Funny story about this room:

I went in and walked to the plaque to see what year the Sphinx was carved……. while I was bending over writing the information a huge group of 40 Japanese tourists came in silently behind me. They gathered in a semi circle around the front of the sphinx where I was leaning over with my back to them…. then their guide started talking really loud. I jumped …. When I turned around my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe that many people had come in. I hurried to the side where the guard was laughing…. I said “Yikes” and that really set him off.

They also have a really famous bronze called the charioteer. He was from 478 BC. He was lost for years and years……. I believe he was found in a retaining wall that needed to be replaced in 1896. It was a huge, huge discovery.

My first thought was that he was smaller than life and I was disappointed: then when I walked into the actual room he was standing in…. I forgot his size and I was really taken with how lifelike and detailed he is. He is holding bronze reins and they figure he was part of a group of three. He is missing one arm… although you don’t really notice it: he has inset eyes of marble and onyx. David is 6’6 (2 meters tall) and took pictures almost at eye level …. I especially like the one taken of the back of his head where his hair curls and his headband is tied.

Across the road from the main Delphi site is the Tholos of Athena. It’s a beautiful circular temple that has three main pillars. It’s one of the most beautiful settings with the Parnassos mountains rising behind it. We have sat for an hour just feeling the power and magic of the place.

A lot of people who travel to Greece do so with a tour group. We find the best way to travel is by ourselves in a car rental. We stay or go depending on how we feel. We have visited Delphi many times but somehow never feel we have seen everything and keep going back.

We stay in a tiny family run hotel called the Pitho. The owners, George and Vicki are lovely people. The rooms were plain but very clean. The mattress was very comfortable. We really loved the custom wood cabinets. We thought it was charming that the rooms were so lovingly constructed. George is a native of the Delphi area. He told us he used to play at Delphi when he was a kid where his father was a guard. Really fascinating. He knows the area and is a ski instructor as well as a mountain leader. (He can organize mountain activities upon request) Delphi is near the Parnassos Mountain ski area.

The motel has a nice little breakfast of coffee and pastries. We really felt like we were leaving good friends because they had been so warm and welcoming. We had an above average breakfast at the motel. We had oranges, yogurt, honey, coffee, juice, rolls, homemade bread, cereals and other things that I can’t remember…. Really a nice spread. George had it set up early and talked to us as we ate. When we go back to Delphi we will absolutely go back to this charming place.

Each visit we are awed by the magic that only Delphi has. Go. Every life needs magic and it’s at Delphi waiting for you.

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