If you visit only one Greek archaeological site this year, make it the ruins of Delphi. Seriously, in a country of awesome historical sights, Delphi is the most impressive in my humble opinion.
Time for a brief history lesson bitches – Delphi was considered the most holy of all the sanctuaries in ancient Greece. Zeus, wanting to locate the centre of the earth, released two golden eagles at either end of the world which then flew towards each other, collided in mid-air, impaled each other with their beaks & fell to the ground at Delphi, thereby marking the centre, or navel, of the earth.
Now that may sound about as nutty as a big pile of squirrel shit, but please allow me to go on a weird rant as we compare that to what we have nowadays: we have a divine being sitting up there in heaven listening to prayers & rewarding/punishing as he sees fit, a power so awesome he created the entire universe, as massive as we now know it to be, in only 6 days and then kicked back & chilled (and maybe smoked a doob) on the 7th day, but despite that you better not worship anyone else cos even though he’s all-powerful he’s also very insecure & jealous, and you have to accept his son (who is also him in some weird way) into your life to achieve salvation because we’re all guilty & flawed by default from the moment we’re born because 6,000 years ago a woman was tricked into eating an apple by a talking snake. Yep, unlike the Zeus story, that one seems totally legit.
But I digest…
The ruins of Delphi are built on the side of a big mountain & consist of a number of major sites, all of which would be impressive on their own, but when viewed all together are pretty goddamn special. You’ve got the temple of Apollo, with it’s massive stone pillars, a big semi-circular theatre which could seat 5,000 people, and at the top of the mountain there’s an ancient stadium where they used to host the Pythian games which were a pretty big deal back in the day. Reading about this stuff doesn't do it justice, so check out the pics above & below.
There are a couple of other very worthwhile sites in the area – firstly, down off the hill & across the main road that cuts through Delphi (the town, not the archaeological site) is the Sanctuary of Athena with a pretty sweet looking semi-reconstructed circular temple called the Tholos. Also worth checking out is the archaeological museum at Delphi which houses a bunch of the cool shit that was found at the site. It blows my fucking mind how realistic the human forms that these ancient Greek dudes carved are, definitely worth a visit. You can get a ticket to both the archaeological site and the museum at a discounted rate, so yeah, check that shit out.
As an aside, I’ve probably used the word “archaeological” about 5 times by now & every damn time I’ve spelt it wrong, I keep getting the red underline thing that points out that you fucked up, I just can’t get it right, thank god/Zeus for spell-check.
One other thing about Delphi & why you must go – not only are the ruins incredible, but the natural setting of this area is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
The modern town is perched on the side of a steep valley, and then the ruins are built up on a steep hill above town, so when you’re up the top of the archaeological site you get what is quite simply one of the most epic views I’ve ever seen, right out over the beautiful valley. The combination of well-preserved ancient ruins in an utterly incredible setting is amazing, and I can only imagine how much those old-school archaeologists who found this site must have been jizzing their pants when they first saw it. If you’re in Athens & have a day or two to spare, get your ass up to Delphi, you will thank me later.
Now wait just one god damn minute, are you trying to tell me that not only does this place have some of the most awesome ancient ruins you’ll ever see, but that they’re set on the edge of this stunningly beautiful valley? That’s right motherfuckers, prepare your eyes for one hell of an eyegasm before you come here.