On the Road in Greece: An Excursion to Delphi

 

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The Charioteer of Delphi

Sanctuaries and oracles such as Delphi were centers of information and advice on colony planning and shaping a consciousness of a Hellenic identity. This was the navel of the Ancient Greek world. I had an exciting excursion in June 2017 to Delphi with Dolphin Hellas and our guide Antony, who was trilingual, English/Italian/Greek in June 2017. Our excursion took us through the legendary Alfeios river that stretches Greece and ends in Syracuse, Sicily, Nafpactos to Delphi.

Our evening in Delphi was spent at Amalia Hotel. This is my second time at the Amalia Hotel, Delphi. “Come and visit me, I will be here,” said Mr. Dimos Theodorakis, General Manager. I believe he works 24/7. The hotel is like a Greek home, full of hospitality. The rooms are immaculate, with a view of the mountains. I loved the outdoor Olympic size swimming pool. I had the best swim at Amalia Hotel. The reception and hotel staff show real love to Americans. A refreshing change from a 4 star hotel I stayed at the Acropolis.

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The Serpent Column
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Panoramic view of Delphi

I had breakfast at a table overlooking the veranda and mountains. In the distance were windmills dotting the mountains. Geraniums, oleanders cacti, green leaf potted plants were part of the landscape overlooking evergreen trees on the mountains. The breakfast buffet had homemade Greek cuisine. Marmalades of traditional Greek quince, apricot and strawberry were offered. Large juicy olives with eggs, bougatsa, rizogalo, halva, kagiana traditional Greek omelets, sausages and sliced fresh fruits were part of a sumptuous table. The elegant, spacious European style dining hall made an impression. Being at the Amalia Hotel with its all Greek staff that was bilingual was a positive experience.

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Swimming with a view of the Parnassus mountains at Amalia Hotel, Delphi, Greece

There is always something new when you visit Delphi. I noticed spring flowers among the ruins, signifying rebirth. The Serpentine Column ignited my imagination in the Byzantine Empire  The Serpent Column is a bronze pillar built in the ancient city of Delphi, Greece, to commemorate those who had fought against the Persian Empire in the Battle of Plataea in 470 B.C. The column was later removed and taken to Constantinople, and now the column was rebuilt and put on display back at the original site. The bronze column was once an imposing sight. Dark, spiraling snakes comprised the body of the column, which stood 8 meters (26 feet) high. It was topped with three menacing snake heads with open jaws, which in turn supported a golden tripod and great bowl. This impressive offering to Apollo was tribute in 478 B.C. after the Battle of Plataea involving 31 Greek city-states. The city names were inscribed on the column to commemorate the victory over Persian annexation, but they are no longer visible on the original today due to exposure and weathering.

               

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Castalian fountain
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The Omphalos of Delphi

We took a vigorous walk to see the Castalian fountain and Tholos. The Castalian spring was the sacred source of Delphi, and its water played an important role in the cult and procedure of the temple and of the oracle. This is where Pythia, the priests and the temple staff washed, and where the water used to clean the temple came from. The theopropoi – those wishing to consult the oracle – were also obliged to wash here in order to purify themselves.2

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The Sphinx of Naxos

The Tholos is a masterpiece of ancient Greek architecture. It is built of marble from Mount Penteli in Attica. The tholos is a circular building which was created between 380 and 360 BC at the center of the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia.3 The Sphinx of Naxos (now in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi) is a colossal statue of a mythical creature with the head of a woman, the body of a lion and impressive feathers of a prey bird turned upwards, set up on a stele around 560 BC as an offering to the temple of Apollo by Naxos, one of the richest Cycladic islands at the time. The overall height of the statue, the column and its base topped 12.5 meters.4 The Torso of the Chryselephantine sculpture of Apollo is, 550 B.C. from Ionia (Asia Minor on the coast opposite the Aegean islands). The showcase has impressive gold like the “Trojan Treasure” uncovered by Heinrich Schliemann, now in the Pushkin Museum of Moscow. The Omphalos of Delphi is the center of the world to the Ancient Greeks.

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The Torso of the Chryselephantine sculpture of Apollo

I came to Delphi to see the bronze charioteer statue. The Charioteer of Delphi, also known as Heniokhos, is one of the best-known statues surviving from Ancient Greece, and is considered one of the finest examples of ancient bronze sculptures. It was dedicated by Polyzalos, the tyrant of Gela of Sicily for his victory in the Pythian games (478 or 474 B.C.). The Greek colonies of Sicily were extremely wealthy, as seen in their many monuments at Delphi.5

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The Tholos

The conclusion of our excursion was at a local Delphi restaurant where I met again my guide Matina Chontales of my Macedonian tour and her mentor George Rostandis. Being with these gracious, knowledgeable guides at Delphi I realized “To Be Greek Is to Be Great.”

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Guide Matina and her bus driver.

References:

  1. http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/ancient-three-headed-serpent-column-delphi-rise-again-after-2500-years-020331
  2. http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/culture/monuments/the_castalian_spring_of_delphi
  3. http://ancient-greece.org/architecture/delphi-tholos.html
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphinx_of_Naxos
  5. “Delphi”, Monuments and Museums of Greece, 2014.

https://goo.gl/photos/bpumqa2XsyHWUA4eA – Delphi album

https://goo.gl/photos/Xg1cJDg1o1fo9NAaA – Amalia hotel album

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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