GREECE: Visiting the Sanctuary of Delphi, the omphalos (navel of the world)

After spending three days exploring the city of Athens, I took the chance to travel northward, to the ancient site of Delphi and to the high stone temples and monasteries of Meteora. Since I wasn’t very familiar with the Greek public transportation system, I chose to book a private tour on viator.com. I first heard about the travel site from a fellow Filipina traveler whom I met in Prague a few months earlier. To be honest, I was hesitant to make use of travel agencies and such because.. well, I guess I had trust issues. But seeing that the site was safe, the tour has had about 400 good reviews and was all-inclusive, I gave it a go. The website was fairly responsive and all my queries were answered. (Book the 2-day Trip to Delphi and Meteora here)

Because the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located far up from Athens, the group had to leave early. I went to the a bigger hotel nearby, where I, together with some other tourists, was picked up by an air-conditioned bus. The tour guide was a fantastic woman who shares interesting history, myths and legends about her country and the archaeological sites. Plus, she also answered questions about the current economic and political crises in Greece. For instance, most Greeks live with their parents until they’re 30 or much older. Pretty much like in the Philippines, huh? I’m an exception though, left home at 16 to study in the city. 😛 Anyway..

The Greek Parliament through the tainted glass of the bus window
The Greek Parliament through the tainted glass of the bus window

We picked several more participants from different hotels around the city and off we go to Delphi! Some interesting details about the sanctuary: It is located high up on the southwestern slope of Mount Parnassus, overlooking the beautiful valley of Phoci. It was “the religious center and symbol of unity of the ancient Greek world” during the 6th c. BC, where many people travel to to consult the ancient Oracle at the Sanctuary of Apollo. What’s fascinating is that they actually believed and followed the prophecies and advice coming from the mouth of an intoxicated priestess called the Pythia. The Pythia, a middle-aged peasant woman, served as a possessed medium for Apollo, the god of prophecy. She may be considered the Greek counterpart for a Catholic male priest who practiced sexual abstinence and fasting and was trained for the role.

Did you know that the ancient Greeks also considered Delphi to be the center of the world? It is symbolized by a stone oval in shape and called the Omphalos, which Rhea, a Titan woman, used to deceive Cronus and save Zeus from being devoured by his own father. (Gosh, I love Greek mythology!) Legend has it as well that Zeus released two eagles from opposite ends of the world to find the center of the earth. The birds flew and crashed against each other and fell on Delphi, thus making Delphi the “navel of the world”. Find general information about the Omphalos here. (Hint: Jerusalem also claimed to house the omphalos.)

Aside from the religious significance of the site, Delphi also held the country’s second most important sports event, i.e., after the Olympics. The Pythian games were held every four years in honor of the god Apollo. Consisting of the same events as that of the Olympics, it was said to have originated from the murder of Python, the earth dragon, by the god of prophecy himself.

The bus ride from Athens to Delphi lasted for about 2 hours, but we had a short stopover in Livadia. Once in Delphi, we had a guided tour which took about an hour. Afterwards, we were left to enjoy the site on our own, and get some lunch from the nearby Amalia Delphi hotel and restaurant. It was an amazing and breath-taking experience! At about 2:30 pm, we headed back to the bus for a 5-hour ride towards Kalambaka, where we spent the night before exploring the wonderful high stone monasteries of Meteora.

And now, I let the several pictures I took to speak about Delphi’s ancient beauty and feels..

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Sites — temples, altars, treasuries, stadium and theater to see and experience and Delphi can be seen in the slideshow as well. 😉 There’s also the Delphi Museum where  the original Naxian Sphinx is displayed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to enter the museum because we had to hop back on the bus and make our way farther up north to Kalambaka, where the Meteora monasteries are situated, ie, if we wanted to get there on time. 😉

By the way, Greece is really spectacular in the north! The trip is not for the faint-hearted and acrophobic though. The route was like Batangas highlands in the Philippines raised to the 10th power. 😀 The views were amazing! I was on top of the world! We also passed by the plains and the Greek plantations. At around 8PM, we reached Kalambaka where we had a delicious dinner buffet at Amalia Hotel. I spent the night in a big room for two! (The perks of being solo) And then, before the journey to ‘the columns of the sky’ began. More about that in the next entry.  Cheers! ❤

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Just me 😉
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13 thoughts on “GREECE: Visiting the Sanctuary of Delphi, the omphalos (navel of the world)

  1. I wish I could go here too.. I never had a chance to travel outside the Philippines but if given a chance, i would love to include Greece on top of my list. I really marvel the beauty of its ancient architectures as I’ve seen from various books and magazines! Thanks for sharing us your journey

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    1. I also want to go there, just like you Milton. The history of every place and culture-that’s what I want to see. For now, i am exploring our country. Hahaha. Very serene place. Nice shots!

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  2. I so adore Greece not only because of JaDine’s new teleserye but they showcased the grandeur and majestic views in Greece. This is why I love travel posts because you can just feel that you are there somehow, also enjoying the place through the photos or videos (if there are any). I’ve always been drawn to history so my list is full of historic and scenic places. 🙂

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  3. Greece! One of my dream place. I already included this in my bucket list. And who knows i might be able to travel there before i die.. hahaha! Dreams do come true! Those sites were so amazing! How did you do the slideshow and embedded it there? 🙂

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  4. I am so glad your travel plans worked out well, I am also hesitant in booking tours unless a trusted source can verify or someone I know has been there. This is a part of Greece that we have not yet been to and I am happy to know that this place is so lovely. Very impressive.

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  5. Wow, most Greeks live with their parents until they’re 30 or much older? I had no idea! It’s so exciting that you visited Delphi. I’ve heard a lot about it and I’d love to visit one day. I’always so impressed by Greece. The history, the culture. I really love it. I love myths and philosophy. So Greece is the place to be then :). Your photos are great. Now I know for sure I have to visit the north of Greece as well. The Delphi Museum is definitely going on my list!

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  6. Greece is included in my bucket list (next to Iceland, Greenland and Faroe Islands). Thank you for sharing this travel itinerary. I am going to bookmark it so when I start planning our trip to Greece, I can reference this. I love visiting UNESCO world heritage sites as well. May I know how much you spent for the tour?

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    1. Hi, thanks for the comment! I spent €193 for the all-inclusive 2D1N trip to Delphi and Meteora via Viator. It’s all worth it! I’ll write about Meteora next.. Truly inspiring and unforgettable experience! Oh, I’m also planning to visit Iceland. 😀

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  7. Help me out here a little bit. Delphi… the oracle is in Delphi in ancient times, yes? I have read so much fiction that it’s actually hard for me to fathom the real Delphi does exist and you are there!

    Okay, I re-read the post and yes, the oracle it is. LOL. At least there is something I know about Greece.

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    1. Hi sir Robert! hahahha I got confused myself as well! Who would have thought that there are actual evidence to the myths? Yes, it’s super real.. It’s mixed history and religion and mythology there.. Lots of archaeological sites. SOme of the legends, of course, just followed or are created later on.. There’s also Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece and second highest in the Balkans, but I didn’t have the time to go there. 😦 The myths felt so real! 😀

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  8. I’ve been dreaming to visit Greece and with the informative post that you have provided in your blog, I am more motivated to saved money so I can visit this place. I like how you include the History of the place as it appears to be more interesting to me. I get it very lovely and I enjoy reading every bit what you have shared.

    LaiAriel

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