Today we took a day trip to Delphi, the site of the Temple of Apollo and the famous oracle. Our local guide told us all about the myths that surround the temple, but also of the history and truth behind them.
Delphi was designated as the center of the earth by Zeus, when he sent two eagles in opposite directions at they met at the site of the town. The Temple of Apollo was erected after the god protected the site by slaying the dragon, Python.
Later, the temple became known as the site of the Oracle, where intermediaries (young women called Pythias, after Python) would commune with Apollo and share prophecies. Today, scientists say that the prophecies, which were often quite vague, were probably based on hallucinations caused by vapors from tectonic plate activity.
In addition to the Temple of Apollo and many treasure houses (where offerings to Apollo were kept), the site at Delphi also includes a huge amphitheater and a stadium. The amphitheater opens to the mountain view below, giving any performance a spectacular backdrop.
We had free time to explore the site on our own, and marveled at how close we could get to so many ancient artifacts. Our guide read many of the tablets to us, explaining that they usually denote who gave each offering and served as a subtle form of advertising for different regions of Greece.
When we returned to Athens, we took advantage of our last night by watching the changing of the guard in Syntagma Square. Outside the Parliament Building, costumed guards parade in synchronized movements. We were lucky to catch them just as the sun was going down!
Jessie and Jenna are making their way through Greece, from Athens to the islands of the Aegean. Follow along as they blog on tour!