My mum found her Great-Grandmas travel diaries a while ago and I have been typing them up for her to read and thought I would put them on here as well- If you want a little bit more background read part one here 🙂
Situated at the foot of Mount Parnassus, the population is the same as in ancient times, 1000. On June 10th yearly, blue and white flags hang across streets and on houses, to commemorate the deaths of 210 Greeks shot by the Germans on that day in 1944, church services are also held. The Temple of Athena was the starting point of a pilgrim age in Grecian times; from here to the temple of Apollo and then on to the fountain of Castalia. The original temple was destroyed, but another was built by the ancient Greeks. The Tholos or Notundra, like the temple of the Sanctuary of Athena is at a much lower level than the rest of the ruins; it has 3 columns bonded by an architrace, on a circular base and is framed by olive trees. It was reported to have been the scene of a miracle, hence the pilgrimage. During the war between the Greeks and Persians, the enemy had needed sanctuary, when suddenly, thunder bolts and stones came raining down on them from the skies; the Persians panicked and fled, pursued by 2 giants and were killed by then; these giants were dead heroes, come back to earth to help. The Temple of Apollo stands on a spot, where in pre-Apollo days, was the centre of the worship of Gaea, mother earth, and her son Pylos, a serpent; it was claimed that the miracles were performed here and that the Oracle was already here. Later Apollo came as a dolphin and gave the peace the name Delphi, from the Greek word for dolphin. He slew Peplos; some historians say the slew Gaea as well, took over and told the people to Crete where he originally came from, to leave their homes on the island of Crete, leaving their lives with them and come to where he was; he said the spot would attract pilgrims and would become rich. At first the people were told to leave their homes, food and means of existence, but eventually they came and Apollos promise came true. The spot which Apollo chose, under the everchanging Mount Parnassus was prone to earth tremors and thunder peals, added to these were eagles and warm springs, which made the people believe it was the abode of the gods; here also grow plenty of flowers and young trees for garland making. In the base of the temple is an opening which is said to be the entrance to an underground chamber, where the Sybil sat one her Tripod, next to the stone called Omphalos or mound, as Delphi is called the “marvel of the earth” and uttered the words of the Oracle. The Oracle was female, usually a person of humble birth, and was called Pythia or Pythones; she chewed bay laurel leaves, drank water and inhaled intoxicating vapours which arose from a crack in the earth, and in a trance-like state answered questions, the answers were ambiguous and often gibberish, the priests would translate them but still in ambiguous terms. Personal questions on health, business, wealth and marriage were asked and answered. The Oracle told the men to travel and spread the cut, ruins of the Oracle have been found in Italy, Russia, Tibet and Sicily, also Malta, when Croesus, king of Lydia, came to enquire “should he make war and invade Persia”, the reply was “if you march into Persia, you will destroy our empire”. He assumed this meant victory but he was defeated and his own empire was destroyed. He was taken prisoner and was about to be burnt when he appealed to Apollo, who remembering how generous Croesus had been in the past when the Oracle answered his question, sent a deluge of rain that put out the fire. The Persians released the king but kept him in their hands, in gratitude to Apollo, he sent the chains that had bound him to Delphi. The Temple of Apollo, in the past, had 38 columns, now only 5 remain at one corner, 4 of them are but half height stumps and since they are not marble but of regional stone, they are much eroded. Nevertheless this is the most impressive piece in Delphi, owing to the proximity of the mountain wall of Parnassus; there is such rugged grandeur in the towering rock face and so much column with slashes of a fiery apricot hue coming through the grey. The 2 great cliff-sided sections of the cleft mountains are called the Phaedriades, the shining ones, because of the way the sun strikes them, making their colours glow in the crevices, purpling the shadows, and drawing every crag on the mountains head, sharp on the vivid blue sky. Above the temple, in olden times, were many buildings, including a fort and a large cemetery of tombs. The Fountain of Castalia was where the Greeks cleansed themselves before approaching the Temple of Apollo; the romans later claimed it as the fountain of inspiration, for, after drinking the water verse flowed from the lips in a silent stream. Today people drink it to assume eternal youth and beauty. The spring flows out of a cleft in Parnassus, past a wall of apricot-coloured stone with riches for offering and today is chambered under the main road to a great plane tree, so old that Agamemnon is said to have planted it. The Acropolis is surrounded by an outer wall; on it are 6000 inscriptions, every stone is inscribed and the writing is quite discernible today. The wall cuts the site in half, the market was outside it (6 B.C. at Delphi) were the beginning of Christian ideas, so slavery and the maxim an “eye for an eye” were abolished, and there was absolution for crime. A Bronze bull was given to the Temple of Apollo by Corfu fishermen after a miraculous haul of fish, the fisherman had seen a bull by the seashore, and at that place had netted a large catch of tuna fish. They claimed that the bull had shown them the place; there is a stone at the temple ruin inscribed with a bronze bull. There were many treasuries of foreign powers built at Delphi, so important was it in those ages. The Treasury of the Athenians is very grand, it was re-erected by a Frenchman, it is a classically simple building, a lovely box of mellowed stone with 2 Doric columns and a predominant remains of sculpture on it depicting the feats of Hercules and Theseus. Built in 490 B.C. just after the Battle of Marathon, the sparks of war were dedicated to the gods. Many inscriptions are out on its lined walls, including 2 hymns to Apollo, with musical notations. Near the treasury stands an Ionic capitol, its chiselling has weathered 2000 years; it is on a section of a fluted column, standing by a large cube of fallen stone. The area surrounding it was once crowded with buildings and great monuments, now all that remains are a couple of stone columns and the wall at the base of the temples alter. The Stadium, where the Pythian games were held, seated 4000, to watch chariot racing, foot running and other athletics; all round is a bank on which the spectators sat. Nearby a Theatre has been excavated, the only major relic among the rest of the ruins. A semi-circular amphitheatre has its seats turned around a perfectly circled orchestra, the seats are of Parnassian stone and seated 5000. Today the amphitheatre is used occasionally, during the production of Prometheans unbound, an eagle swooped low over the actor playing the part of Prometheans. There are royal eagles and common eagles resting in the mountains. In the old days, plays were produced in honour of the gods but later emperors stopped all pagan rites and Delphi died and was forgotten till modern times. The Sacred way, leading to the temples, leads through the pine trees; it is lined with monuments among them a great pedestal with 3 intertwined pythons, also a golden tripod; both these items were removed by later conquerors. Delphi has a giant museum attached to the site, containing the statues, damaged and hole, found at the site, and all other excavation finds: most important of its exhibits is the Bronze charioteer of Delphi.
Let me know in the comments if you have ever been to either of these places and or if you have been to Greece what your favourite place was you visited 🙂