The sacred mountains

After our class tour of Athens, complete with presentations, long walks uphill and a few failed dinner plans, Chandra and I headed to Delphi.

Once we finally found the bus station, we boarded the sketchiest bus ever. On the way to the bus station I practiced saying Delphi in Greek. It’s pronounced “thel-fon,” like saying “cell phone” with a lisp. Luckily, I never had to embarrass myself because it only takes one bus to get to Delphi and it’s all quite straight forward (we began to appreciate this more once we tried to get to Corinth and Olympia… more on this later!)

We arrived in Delphi as the sun was beginning to set. Over the mountains. It was, from the first moment, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

The modern city of Delphi, photo by me

Delphi's flowers, photo by me

We checked into our hotel, then spent the next hour or so chasing the sunset. I wanted to get the perfect picture, and we were willing to risk asp-filled fields to get it! How many times will you get a chance to take a photo of Delphi at sunset?

Sun setting, photo by me

I was waiting for the sun to disappear behind the mountain… Finally, it did.

Sun set from Delphi, photo by me

As I stood, awed and amazed, I realized that I had never really been to place with mountains like these. They made the most beautiful shades of blues I have ever seen.

We ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sunset. It was perfect. We stayed in the best hotel of the trip. And the next morning we found out that it’s just as beautiful during the day.

Mount Parnassos and such, photo by me

We went to the archaeological site for the day. Delphi was the most important Panhellenic (which means that Greeks from all city states could worship there) sanctuary in Classical Greece. It was a sacred oracle dedicated to Apollo. If you had an question about your future, you could ask the Pythia, beautiful young priestesses who would tell you the word of Apollo. Of course, like most oracles, it’s all about interpretation.

The ruins of ancient Delphi, photo by me

It’s not hard to understand why the Greeks would find this site sacred.

Because of Delphi’s status - both as an important sanctuary and as neutral ground for all Greeks - it eventually became a very important place to control. The Athenians used it as their main treasury when they formed the Delian League (a united Greece under the rule of Athens), and many city states built treasuries or dedications on the site to show their wealth or power.

The treasury of the Athenians, photo by me

Delphi really was one of the most stunning places I’ve ever visited, historically and geographically - though I’d argue that, like much of the ancient world, Delphi’s importance is undeniably linked to its geography.

4 Comments

  • By Eleni, June 2, 2010 @ 1:54 am

    Wow, beautiful view! What a spectacular place to watch the sun set.

    It’s nice that you know so much about the history etc. so you can really appreciate the places you’re visiting.

  • By Emily Jane, June 2, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    The photos are incredible and I bet they don’t even begin to do justice to how amazing it felt just to be there!

  • By Sebastian, June 6, 2010 @ 1:13 am

    Worth waiting for that sunset…!

    It’s the one thing I wish we had in England… EPIC landscapes :)

  • By Lisa, June 11, 2010 @ 12:03 am

    That second photo is my favorite!

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