Overlooking the Gulf of Corinth and a valley filled with olive and cypress trees at the foot of Mount Parnassos, within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, lies the Pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. After the Acropolis, Delphi is the most popular archaeological site in Greece. Located 180 kilometers from Athens, a trip to Delphi is listed in just about every tour itinerary and the mountains, hills mixed with low land makes it an excellent destination for cycling. Delphi in ancient times was considered the “omphalos”, the navel of the world.
Mythologically, Delphi was the meeting place of two eagles, released by Zeus in opposite directions to locate the centre of the earth. Where they met indicated the center of the earth. Delphi is known as the center of worship for the God Apollo, son of Zeus who embodied moral discipline and spiritual clarity. But even before the area was associated with Oracle of Apollo where Greeks, there were other deities worshipped here including the earth goddess Gea, Themis, Artemis, Poseidon, Dionysus, Demeter, Hermes, Zeus, Hygeia and Eileithyia. The Doric temple was the home of the Pythia of the Delphic Oracle who would pronounce her prophecies, while the priests translated them to the people. Apollo slew Python (Pithia) its spirit possessed Apolo and when she speaks, the priests will translate or interpret what she was saying in this spiritual experience. By the end of the Mycenaean period Apollo had displaced these other deities and became the guardian of the oracle. Between the 4th and 6th centuries BC, the Delphic oracle was regarded as the most trustworthy, and as a result, the sanctuary began to develop into an international center as the Greek city-states brought offerings. In 191 BC, the Romans drove out the Aetolians who conquered the sanctuary in the 3rd century. The Byzantine emperor Theodosius finally abolished the oracle and the Slavs destroyed the precinct in 394 BC.The old town is second to Athens with respect to ruins and histories with attractions such as the Treasury of the Athenians, ruins of the Delphi theatre, Polygon wall, the the Temple of Apollo, Gymnasium and the archaeological museum containing such masterpieces of Ancient Greek sculpture as the famous athlete Aghast and bronze Charioteer.
Cycling and exploring the Area
Cycling is the best way to explore Greece for it enhances a wonderful intimacy with mother nature and this historic sacred land and Delphi is no exception. The Sacred Way is the main route through the Sanctuary of Apollo, leading from the gateway uphill 200 meters to the Temple of Apollo. E4 European long distance route cut across the end of the modern Delphi town east of the medieval town and a beautiful cycling route to hike the new town. There are tens of flat roads hugging sparkling valleys as well as moderate hills to be encountered along the cycling route to reach pristine nearby villages. Itea town is 10km away from Delphi,on the road to Galaxidi ; the city has a rich history and medieval castle, a small archeological museum with artifacts. Amfissa village is only 11.3 km away from Delphi through EO48 route. Just 7km away through a downhill path and a rural road east of Delphi following the trails of ancient pilgrims in the heart of the spectacular Crisaean field olive grove where you’ll enjoy a unique scenery from the silver-green foliage of the olive trees to the naturally carved trunks of hundred-year-old trees lie Christo village. Arachova town is bigger town known as “Mykonos of the winter”. Although its main street became very commercialised,most of town managed to keep it’s original architecture.