If you’ve never heard of Delphi before, it’s an ancient Greek religious sanctuary sacred to the god Apollo. It’s home to the famous oracles which gave cryptic prediction and guidance to politicians and individuals. Furthermore, it was home to the Pythian Games.
What’s very interesting is that the site was first settled in the 1500 to 1100 BC and considered the center of the world. In Greek mythology Zeus released two eagles – one to the east and one to the west – and they met in Delphi (see the picture of the naval of Earth below in the gallery).
The site was abandoned during the 7th century AD and rediscovered around 1880 by some French archaeologists. Lucky for us that they found it as it’s a remarkable place!
But how the heck did we come about visiting Delphi during our sailing travels?
Okay – after our stay in the commercial port of Patras, the 3rd largest city in Greece, we made our way under the Rio-Antirrio bridge. The bridge links the Peloponnese with central Greece and is the largest suspended bridge in the world.
When we went under the bridge we all went to the bow of the boat and enjoyed the view. A few days previously, when we entered the Corinth waters I noticed the bridge from afar but couldn’t figure out what it was. I yelled over to my cousin, Loryn – ‘hey, do you see those four pyramid shapes towards the end of they bay? What do you think they are?’
Loryn grabbed the binoculars and announced that it was a bridge. Little did we know that it was a famous bridge! The things we come across are amazing.
Anyway, we sailed under the bridge and then headed for a town called Itea
Interestingly, my husband, Simon, spent a couple weeks in Itea when he was 7 years old. His aunt took him for a 6-week tour of Greece and he remembers Itea vividly. Simon smiles and explains, ‘Itea is the place where I learned how to swim. My aunt popped my rubber ring and threw me in. It didn’t take long for me to figure out how to float!’
As we got closer to Itea our American friends on Nepenthe called us on the VHS and told us about the anchorage they settled on. We wanted to anchor but getting my father-in-law in the dingy to get to land proved to be difficult. We decided to check out the moorings along the town wall. Fortunately, there was loads of space. Stepping off the boat onto solid ground was easier for dad than the bouncing dingy.
Just as we were mooring, friends of Nepenthe moored up next to us
It was another boat of Americans. Unbeknown to us the sailboat, named Horizons, was carrying a group of future friends. It didn’t take long for us to get settled, introduce ourselves to the crew on Horizons and then head for the beach!
Three-year cruising experts, Vince and Barbie were joined by their niece Marie, her daughter Seaira and Marie’s best friend Cylinda. Cylinda was joining the crew for a couple weeks and Marie and her daughter for a month. We were all pleased to meet each other and it didn’t take long for all three boats to decide to visit Delphi together.
While discussions were going on, Loryn, my daughter Sienna and I went to the beach near Nepenthe and started to swim to their boat. None of us realized how far Nepenthe was so by the time we got to the boat we were all exhausted! We had to ask Jim and Carole, Nepenthe’s owners, to get their dingy in the water and drive us home. Hehehehe.
Before dinner, my husband and I went for a walk into the town to get the bus times for Delphi. We also snuck into a beautiful bar along the water for a beer and wine. Hubby and I don’t get quiet time too often so we took the opportunity to have a drink, enjoy the scenery and just enjoy each other’s company.
The night before our trip to Delphi we all slept well!
The sun came up, we ate our breakfast and then met the other two boatloads of people. All together, there were 12 of us heading for the bus station to Delphi. The ride took a short 20 minutes up the side of a mountain. We were all thankful at how close Delphi was.
I was very surprised at how lush the area was
There were loads of trees and greenery despite us being on the side of a mountain. While driving through the village of Delphi it was very quite and rather old fashion. It didn’t have a commercial or touristy feel to it. Of course, it was loaded with tourist shops but it was simple rather than ‘too much,’ if you know what I mean.
All three groups purchased their tickets and entered the museum. My daughter Sienna and Marie’s daughter, Seaira, hit it off immediately. They went around taking pictures of the statues while us adults kept our eye on them. The group split into two – there were those of us that found the end of the museum quickly and those that took another hour to make it through!
Normally, I’d be with the slow group as I like to get to grips with the archeological site findings in addition to the layout of what we’re about to see. On this occasion, however, I felt that I needed to keep and eye on my daughter so that came first. I did, however, take the opportunity to take a photo of the famous bronze Charioteer (see picture).
Eventually the split group came back together and we all proceeded on to the archeological site. After recently visiting Olympia (Read my article Running The Stadium Track at Olympia Greece, Where The Olympics First Started in the 10th Century BC), I thought that I’d be a bit tired of ruins, but I was wrong.
Delphi was a magical experience
While combining the history and the feel of the place, I couldn’t help but feel like I was somewhere special. The path led you up higher and higher proceeding through a multitude of amazing ruins. There were temples, columns, an amphitheater and eventually we came across a beautifully well preserved stadium.
Several of the building blocks were filled with ancient Greek words in addition to beautiful images. Around ever turn there was a new an exciting view to take in. And Delphi is set on the side of a mountain so the views from the ancient city were absolutely breathtaking. Pictures just don’t do it justice.
Previous to entering the ruins we tried to get a personal guide but the fee seemed a bit too high. In the end, we all took turns telling stories of what each building was for and why it was there. They were all made up – it was a great contest as to who could come up with the best story!
Eventually, we came upon the naval. Apparently, it was what the ancients called the center of the world. See my photo of the egg type sculpture below. I felt so privilege to see it…and the rest of the site, of course.
Imagine thousands of years ago all the things that were taking place in this very spot? If only I could go back in time and just be a fly on the wall.
Below I’ve added a gallery – you can click on the images to see them enlarged and then click an arrow to the right to carry on seeing the larger images…
After loads of photos, storytelling and laughs we all wondered back down to the museum exit
Then on to the town where we found a place that sold cold beer and soft drinks for the kids. The group members all found places in the shade where we waited ½ hour or so for the bus.
On the ride home, all the girlies sat together showing the photo’s they took in their cameras and phones. My cousin and I had a field day with taking selfies!
Our visit to Delphi was another successful and amazing experience
If you’re sailing around Greece, I’d definitely add Delphi to your list of things to do. There are loads, and I mean loads, of historical sites so you have to be choosey. Thus far, Olympia and Delphi are in my top 10 of all the ancient sites I’ve seen. Others on my list include Rome and Athens…
So…making it to the center of the ancient world definitely received a thumbs up from me and my family!