Introduction & General Information

Delphi is one of the most significant historical places in Greece, most famous for its Oracle. The location took its name from the word "delphini" (dolphin) as according to the myth god Apollo arrived there from Crete riding a dolphin.

Archaeologists have evidence that Delphi Greece was inhabited since the Neolithic period. Towards the latter stages of the Mycenaean period, Delphi evolved a key religious and political hub. Even as the role of the oracle during the prehistoric times is somewhat vague, largely due to the lack of records, the significance of Delphi in the ancient times is rightfully acknowledged by numerous distinguished ancient writers.

In the Mycenaean period, from 1600 and 1100 BC, Delphi was the place where the ritual worship of the deity of Mother Earth was conducted. The deity was popularly referred to as "Ge" in the local dialect. Her influence knew no bounds and by the 8th century BC, the oracle of Delphi attained worldwide recognition for accurately forecasting the future of mankind.

In ancient times, Delphi was regarded by the ancient inhabitants of Greece as the center of planet earth, to be more precise "the navel of the universe". In those days, the Oracle of Delphi was a sacred place.

The visitors were first purified from their sins in the Castalian Spring and then they were going to the oracle to ask for advice. The oracles were bestowed by Pythia, the priestess who is most famous for her strange sounds while in a state of trance. She would give the prophecy to the priests of the temple and the priests gave it to visitors. In many times, this prophecy was vague and could be easily misunderstood.

The fame of the Oracle in Delphi spread all over the Mediterranean Sea. From the average man on the street to the mighty emperors, everyone sought to advise from this Oracle if the matter was of great importance. Matters varied from the routine everyday family disagreements to the more important proposition of waging war against enemy states or to expand the territorial boundaries. The Oracle of Delphi cut across boundaries, and throughout its existence, it offered neutral opinions without any bias or favor.

These visitors would bring many gifts to the Oracle, which is why Treasury buildings were constructed. The most famous is the Treasury of the Athenians and the Treasury of Syphnians. Every four years, the Delphian Games would also take place to honor god Apollo, the protector of the Oracle. The games were taking place in the Stadium above the temple and the participants used to exercise in the Gymnasium.

Although the Oracle of Delphi played a large religious and political role in the ancient times, it gradually declined with the spreading of Christianity and was finally shut down in the 4th century AD by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius.