Delphi is an ancient city, a popular temple town in Greece. Presently Delphi is a major archaeological site, the place is worth visiting due to the well-preserved ruins. Delphi is located on the steep slope of mount Parnassus, at the lower edge in the territory of Phocis. The city is based around 10 km. from Gulf of Corinth. The place is declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1987. The site is now a major tourist attraction, and visitors from all over throng the place.
As the mythological story depicts, Zeus released two eagles, one from east and the other from the west and made them to fly towards centre, as they met at a place which was marked as the centre of the world. This spot was the site where Delphi was made. The Temple of Apollo houses this spot which was marked by a stone. As per the legend the oracle at Delphi belonged to ‘Earth Goddess’ which was guarded by Python, her child. Apollo killed Python and established his own oracle.
Excavations on this site reveal that Delphi was first inhabited in early 15th century BCE. There were many sacred wars fought for the control of the oracle, and the control of oracle shifted amongst the rival parties. Romans captured the city of Delphi in the 2nd century BCE, but it was frequently pillaged. It is said the Roman Emperor Nero is responsible for the removal of 500 statues from the site and vicinity.
Excavations began in the year 1892, and has revealed the plan of this ancient site. The temple sanctuary, which is rectangular in shape is very large and covered by surrounding walls. There is a sacred way through the sanctuary to the Temple of Apollo, this way is lined all along with the monuments and treasuries that wound up through the sanctuary. The Temple of Apollo itself house the Delphic oracle in a chamber at the rear. The monuments are subsequently erected by states or different individuals as gratitude and thanksgiving process, they were made as offerings to Apollo and god for the wish fulfilled or favours bestowed.
The existing temple site has few steps and only the foundation along with few columns in ruins from the temple constructed in 4th century BCE. There are two other temples of Apollo at Delphi estimated to have built earlier, as per the actual remains. There are some wall blocks and some Archaic capitals preserved from the first temple which was restored in 548.
The second temple which was destroyed due to earthquake, was estimated to have been made in the 6th century BCE. There were plenty of treasuries in the site, but now only the Athens treasury has been rebuilt with the original blocks. These have the famous wall covered with inscriptions and also musically annotated hymns to Apollo.
Archaeological work on this site in the 20th century centered on the Roman buildings between 4th and 6th century. A very interesting aspect was discovered by a team of scientists, a group comprising stalwarts from varied faculty, they found the presence of ethylene gas in this region. This gas was once used as an anesthetic as it has the capacity to produce a tranquilizing effect on the individuals. There were other concurrent accounts of vapors rising from the temple floors.
Though the ruins on the site are under threat of erosion, due to the constant preservation efforts the site still is a major tourist attraction centre.