THE WORLD NAVEL - DELPHI
Trip to Arachova, Delphi and Itea.
For sometime now, the Athenians gather a, mass in the winter at Fterolakka, the ski resort of Parnassos. Because of this, Arachova has become popular. Arachova is a mountain village built amphitheatrically at the foot of the mountain, with 950 m altitude, that belongs to the periphery of Central Greece.
To begin this excursion, you take the National Highway Athens-Thessaloniki and after you exit at Thiva, turn toward Livadeia. In less than three hours you will have arrived at Arachova, who is suitable for the exploration of the area.
In Arachova, you may visit the cave with stalactites and stalagmites, known as the Corycian Cave, or just admire the village, tasting a little “formaela” –its specialty cheese. The ski resort of Parnassos is 25 km away and it operates from December to April.
Just 10 km from Arachova, in the prefecture of Phocis, we arrive at Delphi. Delphi is located on the southern slopes of Parnassos at an altitude of 550 m. Delphi was inhabited since Mycenaean times (14th - 11th c. B.C.) by small settlements who were dedicated to the Mother Earth deity. The worship of Apollo as the god of light, harmony, and order was established between the 11th and 9th centuries. Slowly over the next five centuries the sanctuary grew in size and importance. During the 8th c. B.C. Delphi became internationally known for the Oracular powers of Pythia - the priestess who sat on a tripod, inhaled ethylene gasses, and muttered incomprehensible words that foretold the future.
The ancient people of the Mediterranean had such faith in Pythia's view of the future that no major decision was made without consulting the Oracle of Delphi first. Greek and foreign dignitaries, heads of state, and common folk made the pilgrimage to the Delphi sanctuary, and paid great sums for Pythia's oracles. Since the sanctuary only served the public a few days over nine months out of the year, great sums were paid by the more affluent ones in order to bypass the long line of pilgrims.
Such was the importance of the Oracle at Delphi that the ancients believed it to be the center ("Omphalos") of the world. The oracle advised the great Persian Kings of the time, and when the Persians were poised to sack Athens, Themistokles turned the advice of the Oracle to a winning strategy that led to the Greeks' victory in the naval battle of Salamina. The Oracle had simply advised that "wooden walls" would aid to victory, and Themistokles interpreted walls to mean the wooden ships of the Athenian fleet.
From the 7th Century B.C. and at least until the 4th Century, the sanctuary of Delfi was part of the Amphictyonia. The Amphictyonia alliance protected the site from many invaders. Despite some building revivals by the Romans, the Oracle of Delphi lost its influence over the next few centuries, and its spiritual fire was gradually extinguished as Apollo's worship was replaced by a new religion imported from the East: Christianity.
These days, Delphi is a Site of World Heritage, according to U.N.E.S.C.O., where the visitor may admire many monuments; among them are the Temple of Apollo, the Tholos, the Athenian Treasury and the Theater of Delphi. The many findings of the archaeological site – one of them is the bronze statue Charioteer of Delphi also known as Heniokhos – are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.
If the visit to the site worked on your appetite and the beautiful view of the Bay of Itea (or Crisaean Gulf) awaken your interest, you must go the coastal Itea, just 18 km away from Delphi.
Itea is a relatively young town (established in 1830) that managed to develop to an commercial center in the area and it has the capability to host big events such the Acropolis Rally. There is something you must do, for sure, and that is to visit one of the fish taverns to taste their very fresh fish.
Distance from Athens:
- Árachova: 169 km
- Delphi : 179 km
- Étea : 197 km
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