Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

South East Europe / Western Trans-Balkan Road

Archaeological Site of Delphi

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Archaeological Site of Delphi

About the site

Corridor: Western Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Greece, Phokis
Type: Ancient Site
Epoch: Antiquity
Theme: Antiquity
World Heritage: Cultural Heritage
AntiquityAntiquityAncient SiteCultural Heritage

The pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, was the site of the omphalos, the 'navel of the world'. Blending harmoniously with the superb landscape and charged with sacred meaning, Delphi in the 6th century BC was indeed the religious centre and symbol of unity of the ancient Greek world.


During the Mycenaean period, the female deity of Earth was worshipped in the small settlement of Delphi. The development of the sanctuary and oracle though, began in the 8th century BC with the establishment of the cult of Apollo. Under the protection and administration of the Amphictyony, the sanctuary continued to be autonomous after the First Sacred War and, as a result, increased its panhellenic religious and political influence. The Pythian Games were re-organized, the sanctuary was enlarged and it was enriched with nice buildings, statues, and other offerings. In the 3rd century BC it came under the domination of the Aetolians and later, in 191 BC, was conquered by the Romans. During the Roman occupation the site was sometimes plundered but was also favoured by some of the emperors. With the spread of Christianity, the sanctuary lost its religious meaning and was permanently closed down with a decree of emperor Theodosius the Great.
The ruins of Delphi were uncovered by the systematic excavations of the French Archaeological School, which began in 1893. The village of Kastri, which had occupied the area of the sanctuary since medieval times, was moved to its present position. After the removal of huge quantities of earth that had been accumulated with the landslides, the remains of two sanctuaries, dedicated to Apollo and Athena Pronaea, were finally uncovered. The excavations revealed more than five thousands inscriptions of all kinds, statues, several miniature objects, architectural decorative pieces, all exquisite works of art, representing the major cities of Greek antiquity. Outside the area of the Sanctuary, the Stadium, the Gymnasium, the settlement of Delphi and its cemeteries have also been excavated.
The only monument that could be fully reconstructed from its own building material was the Treasury of the Athenians, which was restored in 1903-1906 by the French excavators, at the expense of the Municipality of Athens. In 1959, the restoration of the altar of the Chians was completed by the Greek Archaeological Service. The gradual reconstruction of parts of the Tholos and the Apollo Temple since 1938, has resulted in major changes in the overall appearance of the ancient remains; the Tholos has been rebuilt up to the marble sima at the base of the roof, while of the Temple have been restored the north crepis, the north wall, the columns on the east side, and the ramp of the entrance.
The numerous finds from the sanctuary are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.

Expert network

Read more about Archaeological Site of Delphi at the Unesco World Heritage List.