Zeus sent two eagles in opposite directions. Where they met would be the center of the world. They met at a rock in a place called Delphi. The rock is called the omphalos or navel. With a legend like this surrounding a place, it became a very important location.
Delphi was also home to the oracle who consulted with the gods on behalf of people and nations. Divination from this ancient sanctuary led to major decisions across the ancient world. Representatives from cities and nations would visit the oracle and bring offerings. Today, along the path leading to the main temple, ruins of altars and offerings line the way.
The archaeological site of Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, hugs tight on the side of Mount Parnassus. From its slopes you can see the sea in the distance. The city wasn’t a huge city, but it did have everything that accompanied a Grecian settlement including a theater and gymnasium. There is also an arena or stadium, which was not accessible to visitors when we were there.
One of the relics found at Delphi is a match to a relic in Istanbul’s hippodrome. It is the bronze serpentine column. This ancient masterpiece sits very close to the temple of Apollo who has an even older connection to Delphi than Zeus’ eagle myth. Apollo is said to have defeated Python or a dragon-like serpent who protected the navel of the earth. Because of this connection to Apollo, Delphi was the site of ancient games.
The site also boasts a wonderful museum housing some of the spectacular artifacts of Delphi. The statues represent the fine offerings and gifts taken to Delphi as tributes for favor from the oracle.