Ton had specifically requested we stop at Delphi as she had visited it many years ago on a trip when she was in school. She remembered it has the highlight of her trip to Greece then.
We were up bright and early as we had to take François to the site as the local bus service is on hiatus until spring. Our early arrival was rewarded with a primo parking space close to the entrance.
Delphi was the major religious site for the ancient Greeks. It was maintained as a religious site by the Romans after they conquered Greece, so it was used for religious purposes for around 800 years.
Originally it was the site of the Oracle of Delphi which features heavily in Greek mythology. Some of the stories of the founding of the site at Delphi attribute the selection of the location to Greek gods. Because of natural disasters and war it underwent at least three major rebuilds so it includes examples of buildings from multiple eras of Greek and Roman architecture and art.
There are three major building complexes on the site, the Temple of Apollo, the theater and the stadium. In addition to the major buildings there are many smaller buildings built by different cities in Greece to celebrate great victories over rivals. These are called treasuries and would be stocked with statues commemorating heroes as well as art work to celebrate the victory. Greek communities as far away as Marseille in modern day France built treasuries on site here. Right as you enter the site there are 5 small buildings which acted as the gift shops for travelers. Some things never change.
The site is very large and it is easy to get around now as modern walkways have been added. Ton said that was the biggest change since her visit in college.
The theater is quite large and relatively intact. Greek theater design heavily influenced how the Romans designed their theaters so it looked familiar to us.
The highest point of the site is the stadium. It is the first Greek stadium I have visited and the stadium at Delphi was the second most important in Greece after the Olympic stadium. The grounds were used primarily for racing and the decathlon. The stadium is in really good shape and you get a good feel for how the events must have looked.
We next visited the museum on site which houses the statues and other artifacts that have been found on site. It is a modern looking building but has been around since 1903.
There are 12 halls and all are filled with different statues and small bronze works. Many of the statues in the treasuries were bronzes but almost all were lost to scavengers who melted them down for the metal.
We were lucky because while the day was beautiful and warm the crowds were relatively small and we often had the whole gallery to ourselves in the museum which allowed us to take our time going thru.
After a short break for a snack in François, we visited two secondary sites. The Gymnasium (a kind of school) was closed today, but we were able to see the Tholos of Athena which was a secondary site for the original Delphi. It had an unusual round domed temple that was famous.
Delphi did not disappoint Ton on her second trip. We returned to the campground where Ton began cooking up all of the food in François as our time in him is winding down. We have acquired a pride of about 5 cats because we have both been feeding them bits and pieces of things from the fridge. Now whenever either one of us leave François we have a parade of cats following us around like we are the Pied Piper.