Temple of Apollo, Delphi

Central among the Delphi ruins, the temple's imposing columns lie on the southern slopes of Parnassos mountain.

TravelCurious Tip

The temple is the most popular site at Delphi - try to get here early to beat the tour groups coming in from Athens.

On the sun-warmed southern slopes of Mount Parnassos lies the world-famous temple of Apollo. If you searched the entirety of Greece, it would be hard to find a more spectacular location for an ancient landmark. Standing proud beneath sharp rocky peaks and commanding a stunning view of the valley below, this was certainly a fitting location for a temple of one of the most important Greek gods.

An Eternal Drama

Apollo was worshipped as the god of music and truth and, most importantly, of the sun. According to Greek mythology, Hera, queen of the gods, flew into a jealous rage when she discovered that the goddess Leto was pregnant by her husband Zeus with Apollo and Artemis. Hera sent the mighty serpent Python to ruthlessly pursue Leto so that she could never give birth in the sunlight. Many years later, when Apollo was fully grown, he set out to avenge his mother’s plight, and eventually slayed Python within the sacred shrine to Gaia at Delphi. As punishment for this sacrilege (rather hypocritical given his involvement in the saga), Zeus ordered Apollo to found and preside over the “Pythian games”, which were to take place every four years.

Prophetic Hallucinations

These games began in the 6th century BC and continued until at least 424 AD, and were a forerunner of the Olympic Games. Apollo gradually succeeded Gaia as Delphi’s most important deity, and the temple as we see it today was built in 330 BC. It was here that the famous Oracle at Delphi, known as Pythia, made her prophecies with the aid of some convenient chemical vapours emerging from a cleft in the rock within the temple. These days, only the foundations of the temple remain, together with some impressive Doric columns, but the colourful mythology and spectacular setting continue to capture the imaginations of thousands of visitors each year.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Athens
Greece's most important archaeological site after the Acropolis, Delphi was the religious centre of the ancient world.
Delphi Museum
The museum shelters numerous wonderful artefacts unearthed during excavations at the home of the Oracle, including the famous Charioteer of Delphi.
Theatre of Delphi
The 35 rows of this ancient theatre can seat 5,000, and offer spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding ruins and valley below.
Mount Parnassus
Mountain in Greece, which towers over Delphi and offers scenic views of the countryside.
Thissio is one of locals' favorite neighborhoods, with open air concerts and lined with kafeneios interspersed with its many neoclassical buildings.
At the heart of Greek social life are kafeneios - local cafes which serve coffee, ouzo, and local beer.

Related Tours

Visit Delphi Archaeological Site: Private Day Trip from Athens

Immerse yourself in the world-famous ancient wonders of Delphi on this magical day trip from Athens, a truly unforgettable experience. Located at the base of Mount Parnassus, where the gods were said to reside, Delphi was once a place of worship and pilgrimage. It became a wealthy city of the gifts brought there and such wealth was used to build impressive monuments like stadiums, training facilities and much more in honour of Apollo with competitions that were precursors to the modern-day Olympics.

On your tour, you will:

  • Explore the beautiful UNESCO Archeological site of Delphi, where the oracle temple dedicated to Apollo was one of the most important shrines in Greece;
  • Discover the Temple of Apollo, the sanctuary for the god of Apollo and the first temple located in Delphi;
  • See the ancient seat of Pythia, the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo that was known as the Oracle of Delphi;
  • Marvel at the Theatre of Delphi, home to the singing and instrumental music contests of the Pythian Games and the largest structure in the Temple of Apollo;
  • Visit the Athens treasury, designed to hold the Athenian offerings to the Delphi oracle and to safeguard their loot from wars; 
  • Marvel at the lush scenery of Mount Parnassus, a sacred sight to Apollo and the Corycian nymphs;
  • Stop for lunch in the lovely mountain town and beautiful village of Arachova;
  • Relax and enjoy the peaceful and scenic drive back to Athens.

No trip to Greece is complete until you have explored the beautiful and serene enclave of Delphi. After being picked up from your hotel in your private air-conditioned vehicle, you’ll begin the scenic 180 km drive through mountains and fertile valleys of cotton fields and olive groves, enjoying sensational views of the Greek countryside.

Upon arriving in Delphi you’ll enter the UNESCO world heritage site, to explore these stunning ruins with your knowledgeable local guide.

Dating as far back as the 6th Century BC, Delphi was thought to be the point at which heaven and earth met – it was here that man could get closest to God. The sanctuary of Delphi was also famed throughout the classical world as home to the Oracle: a priestess named Pythia, who channelled the spirit of Apollo, answering questions on anything from domestic squabbles to matters of war. Everyone from foreign dignitaries to common peasants would make the pilgrimage from Athens to Delphi to seek the Oracle’s advice.

During your day tour, follow in their footsteps and discover for yourself the iconic monuments of antiquity dedicated to the mighty Greek gods and goddesses: the temples of Apollo and Athena Pronea – whose circular structure is the most recognisable of all Delphi’s ruins.

Your tour will continue inside the Delphi museum, where you’ll come face to face with the piercing gaze of the famed Charioteer of Delphi, and other archaeological wonders. After stopping for lunch in the picturesque village of Arachova, carved into a hillside along the Saronic coast, your day will finish with a peaceful drive back to Athens.

Some believe it’s still possible to feel the spirit of Apollo here thousands of years later!



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