Pausanias Project
The Rock of the Sybil had been used as a stage by one of the (legendary) Sybil’s (called Herophile) from which to utter her prophecies.

The portico of the Athenians in Delphi is probably much older than thought by Pausanias. The exact form of the letters used in its dedicatory inscription points to an archaic date, probably around 500 B.C.  The portico may have been erected to celebrate the Athenian victory over the Boeotians in 507 B.C. (Herodotus 5.77), or possibly it  was meant to celebrate the sea battle at Salamis of 480 B.C.  The spoils from the Peloponnesian Wars which Pausanias saw, will have been put there much later. The inscription says:
          The Athenians set up this portico here as well as the arms and the           ship trappings they  captured from the enemy.  
Delphi - The enormous amount of tourist guides dealing with Delphi make a complete treatment of Delphi redundant. Therefore, only the most important buildings are shown here, more or less in the same order as Pausanias treats them.
Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia (or Pronoia) – The old temple of Athena Pronaia was a 6th-5th century temple, which was damaged by the landslides which drove off the Persians in 480 B.C. Of this temple only three columns have been (partly) preserved. Next to the temple stood two treasuries and the second most famous building of Delphi, the tholos (or rotunda), which was heavily restored in 1938. This building, which is ignored by Pausanias and may have lain in ruins in his days, dates from the 4th century. The cella was surrounded by 20 slim Doric columns, and stood on a plateau reached by three steps. The interior was decorated by Ionic halfcolumns. Fragments of this building may be seen in the museum. The new temple of Athena Pronoioa was erected after 360 B.C. It was a sober building, having six Doric columns in front. To the NW of this temple lie the remains of the gymnasium, with on its highest terrace a large portico in which the athletes could continue training during bad weather. Beneath this you may find the remains of a wrestling arena (palaestra) consisting of a courtyard surrounded on four sides by porticoes, and next to the roman baths, a large round bath for cold water and a couple of showers built against the northern retaining wall.  

Right: view of the gymnasium-complex, with the large round bath/swimming pool. Lower, the tholos or rotunda, with below that a possible reconstruction and the groundplan of the sanctuary.
The stadium: The stadium in Delphi was built in the 5th century B.C. Originally, the spectators simply sat on the ground, but in the Roman period the rich sophist Herodes Atticus furnished the stadium with stone benches, to the north (cut in the rock) 13 rows, to the south (with a retaining wall) only 3 rows. In total the stadium could have housed some 7000 spectators. Along the entrance were built four stone pillars to support the vaulted gate, through which entered the athletes and referees. The middle pillars also had niches for statues. The stadium measures 187 metres in total, the racecourse itself 177,55 metre; its width was 25,5 metre. Thresholds made of plaster indicate the starting point and the finish. At the starting point holes were made into the ground for the feet of the athletes. In the centre of the northern benches luxury seats were made for the referees and other dignitaries. In a corner of the stadium was a well, making it possible for the spectators to drink during the games.   

Right: the entrance to the well. Below, the starting point and twice the stadium.
The large temple of Apollo is probably the object which is photographed most in modern Delphi, but is largely ignored by Pausanias. At its northern side the temple stands on the bare rock, but at its southern side it stands (because of the sloping terrain) on a platform of roughly cut stones, with a total height of 4.60 m. This temple originally had 6 x 15 columns which were all plastered. Not counting the mythical precursors which are mentioned by Pausanias, the same spot was occupied by a wooden temple dating from the 7th century B.C., which burned to the ground in 548 B.C., after which a new one was built. It was this late archaic temple which was so highly admired by the poets Pindar, Aischylus and Euripides. Many fragments of this temple have been found, including (some) of its pedimental sculptures, which may be seen in the museum. The “modern” temple, built after the destruction (in 376 B.C.) of the archaic temple by the architects Xenodoros and Agathon, was set on fire during a barbaric raid from Thrace in 88 B.C., after which it was further demolished by the Roman general Sulla. It was rebuilt by the emperor Domitian, and is (sparingly) described by Pausanias. Of the pedimental sculptures from this temple, mentioned by Pausanias, nothing remains.  
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Left: three goddesses  are seated on the Olympus, discussing the expected outcome of a duel which takes place before the walls of Troy. Middle: the battle between the gods and the giants; two lions pulling the chariot of Artemis, help the gods defeat their opponents.  Right:Apollo and Heracles  fight for the possession of the holy tripod of Delphi; in the middle Zeus tries to separate them.

Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia

Sanctuary of Apollo


1 Aigospotamoi monument  

2 monument Arkadians

3 statue Philopoimen    

4 monument Marathon        

5 kings of Argos   

6 monument Tarantines       

7 monument Tarantines  

8 treasury Sikyon               

9 treasury Siphnians 

10 treasury Thebes   

11 treasury Athens   

12 treasury Syracuse             

13 treasury Cnidians         

14 bouleuterion            

15 rock of the Sibyl

16 column Naxians            

17 votive offering Crateros      
18 stoa Athenians               
19 treasury Corinth            
20 treasury Cyrene         
21 prytaneion                    
22 snake-column Plataia
23 chariot Rhodians
24 tripods of Gelo and Hiëro
25 altar Chians
26 monument Prusias
27 temple Apollo
28 monument Aemilius Paulus
29 votive offering Krateros
30 theatre                       
31 monument Daochos           
32 sanctuary Neoptolemos   

The treasuries

Portico of the Athenians and rock of the Sybil

The famous Omphalos (“navel” of the world) was an undecorated holy stone kept in the innermost of the temple in Delphi, covered with a knotted woolen net. It was flanked by two golden eagles. This stone indicated the exact centre of the world, as proven by a scientific experiment by the god Zeus. He had two eagles, one from the eastern end of the earth and one from the west, flying towards eachother. The point where they met (at Delphi) had to be the exact centre. The stone which is exhibited in the museum (decorated with the same net) probably stood in front of the temple, being a copy of the original.

Temple of Apollo and some votive gifts


King Prousias II of Bithynia (182-149 B.C.) put up  a high statue base on which to erect a statue of himself on horseback (as did later the Roman general Aemilius Paulus).  Of course, the statue is lost.

Below and right, the theatre of Delphi, which was used as a stage for the musical contests during the Pythian games. As all Greek theatres, it was built up against the slope of a mountain. The earliest phase dates to the 4th century B.C., but its “modern” shape, built largely in marble, was commissioned by Herodes Atticus, a 2nd century sophist. The front of the skènè  on which stood the musicians, was richly decorated with a marble frieze. On which were depicted the deeds of Heracles. Fragments of this frieze may be seen in the museum.  

From left to right, Heracles and Cerberus,  the Hydra, Heracles and Nessos

As a reward for their help in the rebuilding of the temple after the earthquake of 376 B.C. the Delphians gave the  inhabitants of Chios the right  to be the first in asking questions from the oracle.

Monument for Prousias II

The Sphinx of the Naxians

The famous Sphinx of the Naxians, an archaic statue which was dedicated by the inhabitants of Naxos to Apollo in the 6th century, standing on top of a Ionic column of over 10 meter in height, is not mentioned by Pausanias. No doubt, this votive gift had already fallen down, and was no longer in sight.
          Of the original sphinx some pieces are missing, like the tail, parts of the wings and the front legs. The sphinx shows some details typical of archaic statues, like the mysterious smile on the face of its (female) head.
Delphi museum

The theatre

The Stadium

Two archaic bronze statues, decorated with gold foil. The head to the right forms part of a sitting statue, of which are also preserved the feet and some of the goldfoil for its throne and clothing.

Delphi museum