The Oracle of Delphi – Back to the Past to See the Future

The Oracle of Delphi

“They’re like an oracle, they always know what’s going to happen.” ‘Oracle’ might seem like another phrase, but travel to the foot of Mount Parnassus and you’ll discover Delphi. The place which gave birth to the myth of the Oracle.
Tholos of Delphi Greece
The Tholos of Delphi

Legend tells that Zeus released two eagles at the end of the universe. Where they met would be be the navel of the world and this was Delphi. Thus also becoming the centre of worship for his son; the God Apollo.

Delphi Ancient Site Model it would have been

Being the God of truth and prophecy (amongst other things), followers would seek his advice. Arriving at the Temple of Apollo, they would ask a question of the Oracle Pythia. Sitting atop her throne, Pythia would writhe around in mystical fumes and enter a trance to channel the spirit. Rambling off her answer, priests would would frantically translate a coherent response to the follower.

Omphalos - navel of the earthin Delphi, Greece
Omphalos - the navel of the world

The most famous story of all is that of Oedipus, told that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He left the Temple of Apollo  in disbelief, but Oedipus couldn’t escape his fate as predicted by the Oracle.

Delphi Oracle Greece
Much of the site now lays in ruins

The site existed from around 1400 BC and was of huge importance for a thousand years. With its visions of the future, the Oracle of Delphi was one of the most important sites in ancient Greece!

Delphi Theatre Greece
A theatre sits at the top of the hill overlooking the Temple of Apollo

Is it true that the Oracle could predict the future?

In ancient Greece, yes! The myth goes that a farmer’s goat fell into a crevice in the ground. Trying to rescue the goat, the farmer himself entered the crevice. He emerged energised and in a divine trance! Others wanted to experience this phenomenon and over time the Temple of Apollo was built on the site. A young Pythia was then chosen to channel the gods.

Charioteer of Delphi Bronze Statue
The Charioteer of Delphi bronze statue dates back to 470 B.C.

No-one wants to let science get in the way of a good story. Yet it seems that Deplhi was built upon a bedrock of ethylene! Water may have carried nauseous gases through the fault lines and up into the atmosphere where Pythia sat. Whatever the truth, it’s a place you won’t want to miss on your travels.

Delphi Oracle Greece Temple

What led to Delphi’s downfall?

The Byzantine emperor Theodosius destroyed the site in 394 BC. New religions and a disbelief in what had come before made way for a new city. With the advent of Christianity, The city lay in ruins from the Sixth Century AD, remaining undiscovered until 1860.

Delphi Oracle Greece Murial
A salvaged frieze in the Delphi Museum from the Treasury of the Siphniansin

How do I get to Delphi?

We hired a car in Athens to make the 180km trip. This enabled us to explore the site and excellent museum at our own pace go at our own pace. A word of caution though; if you hire a car, driving through the centre of Athens is f*****g terrifying!

Although it would be a tiring day, organised trips from Athens can be arranged. You may also be offered a combined two day trip which takes in the rock churches of Meteora.

A bus can trip can be arranged here:

How much does it cost to visit Delphi?

Entrance to the site and museum is €12.

A bus from Athens is around €10.

An organised tour will set you back €100 or more. This will include transport, lunch, entrance fees and a guide. We can’t recommend a specific tour as we didn’t take one. Although Google ‘Athens to Delphi tour’ and you’re given loads of options. Trip Adviser can be a good place to look for personal recommendations too.

How long should I spend in Delphi?

You’ll need at least half a day exploring the site and museum. Arrive early in the morning and see the ancient ruins first. When the hot sun beats down, it’s time to head to the museum.

Delphi Oracle Greece Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo

Where is the best place to stay in Delphi?

Accommodation in Delphi can be cheap. We stayed at Pan Hotel. Look at that view from our window!

Pan Hotel Delphi Greece
The Pan Hotel overlooks the Pleistos Valley


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