Center of The World, a Famous Oracle and The Pythian Games: Delphi, Greece

View from above the theater overlooking the temple of Apollo where the oracle made her prophecies.

We have been to The Center of The Universe in Wallace, Idaho USA. Now it’s time to visit the Center of The World in Delphi, Greece. According to legend Zeus sent two golden eagles free and where they met was the Center of The World. He threw down a stone on this magical spot. This stone is called the Omphalos and was supposedly covered in a woolen net topped with a pair of gold eagles. It was said to reside under the stone floor of Apollo’s temple with the Delphic Oracle.

The Omphalos on site in Delphi, navel of the world.
Resting in the Delphi Museum, a carved rendition of the Omphalos that some believe sat atop the pillar of Apollo’s three dancers (seen behind it).

Besides being the Center of The Earth, Delphi was home to the oracle whose prophesies helped shape history as we know it. The oracle, called The Pythia, would descend into a stone chamber below the stone floor of Apollo’s temple. There was a crack in the ground that emitted vapors. She would fall into a trance and Apollo would use her as an instrument to speak his prophesy, which would then be interpreted by the priests. The prophesies were scheduled for 9 times a year. Records show that some exceptions were made when self important rulers showed up and demanded a prophesy.

Painting of The Pythia, Delphi’s oracle.

Delphi also had a huge theater and further uphill a stadium where the Pythian Games were held every four years, only second in importance to the Olympic Games. The games included music and poetry as well as athletic sports and equestrian challenges.

The stadium at Delphi were the Pythian Games were held.

A short walk down the road are the ruins of a large gymnasium where the athletes trained. And just beyond that is the temple dedicated to Athena.

Temple dedicated to Athena in Delphi.

The price of your ticket includes entrance to the Delphi Museum. This museum houses the collection of findings that have been excavated at Delphi ranging from huge stone sculptures to tiny delicate offerings made from precious metals.

This sphinx topped a huge pillar near Apollo’s Temple.

We spent over 5 hours hiking around the sites and visiting the museum. Ian estimates that it was at least 4 miles. The valley views overlooked olive orchards stretching to the Gulf of Corinth. And of course we stopped to pet some of the famous Greek stray cats!

Gorgeous views of the valley below.
On the road to the ruins of Delphi.