Written by Missy Johnston

Delphi, Greece – View of Ancient Theatre of Delphi in the Sanctuary Athena Pronaia

An Ionian Islands, Greece luxury private yacht charter is a dream come true for many vacationers. Delphi’s history is fascinating and has been featured in numerous movies, poems, and books. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s open to visitors. On a yacht charter, in the Ionian Islands including the Gulf of Corinth, a stop can be made to visit Delphi and a private guide can be arranged, or guests are free to explore independently as well. Here are some of the most fascinating historical facts about Delphi.

Delphi was the religious sanctuary for the Greek god Apollo.

Delphi with ruins of the Temple of Athena Pronaia in Greece

Delphi with ruins of the Temple of Athena Pronaia in Greece

Though all that’s left are ruins, the Delphi sanctuary once contained numerous buildings. These included the famous Temple of Apollo, the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, and various gymnasiums and other sports-related buildings. Delphi was home to the Pythian Games, which were second in importance only to the Olympic Games.

Greeks thought of Delphi as the central point of the world.

Greek mythology states that Zeus sent one eagle to the west and another to the east. Where the eagles met was said to be the navel of the world, or the very center. A stone commemorating the occasion was dubbed the omphalos, or “navel” and was placed in the sanctuary of Apollo after it was built.

Ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

Ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece

The priestess Pythia became known as the Oracle of Delphi.

Greek temples hosted several oracles over the years, but none achieved the notoriety of the Oracle of Delphi. Travelers would come to visit Pythia and offer gifts in exchange for her wisdom and guidance.

It is believed that she would sit in a rear chamber of the temple and breathe hydrocarbon gasses escaping from a crack in the ground. These gasses put her into a trance, and she would utter her famous prophecies—and sometimes unintelligible bits of advice—for priests to translate for the visitors.

Archeology suggests there were settlements in the area as early as 4000 BC.

Delphi Ancient Sanctuary Greece

Delphi Ancient Sanctuary Greece

Though the current remaining ruin of Delphi was built around the 8th century BC by priests of Apollo from Crete, the site was probably in use by early settlements for thousands of years before that. The earliest known evidence of rituals comes from a cave on Mount Parnassus. Artifacts in the cave date back to about 4000 BC, which was the Neolithic period.

A few thousand years later, Mycenaeans settled in the area from roughly 1600 to 1100 BC. Evidence seems to indicate that a Bronze Age temple to Athena or Gaea may have existed there before it was destroyed in a rock fall.

Stopping to visit Delphi on an Ionian Islands private yacht charter is a step back into ancient history and a fascinating glimpse into the importance of the Oracle of Delphi.