Three Glorious Days in Delphi, Greece

By Erin Harris | Travel

Dec 18
Delphi Greece: Sanctuary of Athena

<img class=” />This post is under construction right now<img class=” />I’m a hot-weather person. I have no idea why I still live in Wisconsin. I was born here, but that’s no excuse.

I’m kidding. There’s a lot to be said for the merits of winter. Once the deep freeze sets in in January (when it can be three below O°F), I take a lot of comfort in hunkering down for a long, cozy retreat. 

But it’s heat that makes me feel alive. 

So last September, I spent three glorious days sweating on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, and hour after hour traversing the ancient sanctuaries.


I stayed at the Kastalia Boutique Hotel, which I highly recommend to anyone journeying to Dephi. It is the embodiment of Greek hospitality. When I arrived, the owner said:

“Ask me anything you please, and your wish will be granted.”

And she meant it.

Cheaply, I had chosen a street-facing room, and naturally it was loud. I didn’t sleep well my first night, so the next day I asked to switch rooms. It was no problem at all, and the owner even went so far as to not charge me the higher price for a room with a breathtaking view of the valley.


She also gave me clear instructions on how to get to the ruins, and how to ensure blessings from Athena.

The Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia

The iconic ruins are a short walk through Delphi Village. Athena’s sanctuary is further east from the Kastalia than Apollo’s temple, but the owner said the best way to take it all in is to go to Athena first because in ancient times, she held the gateway to the main sanctuary.

sanstuary of Athena at Delphi

As you can see, the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia is magnificent. There was a tour group wrapping up when I got there, and then I had the place to myself. I asked Athena for healing, and my trip to Greece only got better from there.

Between visits to Athena and Apollo, for millennia it’s been customary to make a stop at the Castalian Spring.

In ancient times, travelers purified themselves here, taking rest on benches that lined a beautiful fountain house carved into the rock. The priestess and the priests also used to bathe here in preparation for divination.

Nowadays, you’re supposed to cleanse your feet under the modern fountain next to the ruins of the old bath. The water is said to be high in minerals and deeply healing, so I soaked my toes and filled my bottle up. From time to time, locals stopped by to fill 5-gallon jugs.

Castalian Spring

With blessings from Athena and purification from the fountain, I was ready for the main sanctuary. 


View from the theater

You can see the ruins of the Temple of Apollo below the horseshoe-shaped theater. Below Apollo is a treasury. (Everyone who was anyone had a treasury at Delphi.) And above this sweeping vision is the gymnasium.

gymnasium at Delphi

Left side of the gymnasium

gymnasium at Delphi

Right side of the gymnasium

The entire sanctuary is infused with peace.

It feels like holy land — intrinsic holy land — and the ancients made it more so with the sacred geometry of their architecture.

It’s so holy that this is where the Oracle of Delphi, or the Pythia, gave prophesies from the divine.

Nowadays it’s believed that the high priestess’s oracles were gibberish induced by vapors emanating from a chasm below her tripod. Some even say that the priests translated the gibberish into false prophesies for political gain.

priestess of delphi by John Collier

Wikimedia Commons: Priestess of Delphi by John Collier

But soaking up the heart of the place, I could feel that the oracles began as trance-connections with the divine. I suspect that even their translations began as authentic.

And it was gloriously hot.

I was wearing a thin white cotton shirt, a thin light-colored skirt, and sandals, and I was sweating bullets as I basically did interval cardio up the slope, stopping from time to time to absorb the atmosphere. I found it staggering that other people were wearing long-sleeved black shirts and tight jeans and socks with tennis shoes as they climbed upand they didn’t seem to feel the heat or break a sweat.

One thing that people did do, though, really impressed me. See the pert buttocks on this sarcophagus? (Look left)


A group was walking by this sarcophagus and a lady said, “Nice ass.”

A gentleman said, “Thank you.”

Oh, those magnificent days of delight and discovery.

I also loved Delphi Village.

There’s nothing like good, hot, dry weather and a landscape like this.


A short walk from the ruins, Delphi Village was built around 1891.

It had been called Kastri in its previous incarnation, when it occupied the site of the ruins.

French archeologists relocated it to its current locale at the end of the 19th century, a move that allowed them to excavate the sanctuary.

Here’s what the village looks like above the Kastalia:


Years before I came here, I’d had dreams of riding a motorcycle down a street like this.

In real life, a little further up this street, I had a magnificent Greek salad and souvlaki.

What I love about Greek food is that, everywhere I’ve eaten throughout two months in the country, everything is always fresh and never pompous.

Greek salad

Down the street from my lunch spot was a pomegranate tree.

This has particular significance now in December, with Persephone hanging out in Hades for the winter.

pomegranate tree

Remember the myth of Persephone and Demeter?

Persephone was off limits to the menfolk as far as her mother, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, was concerned. But all the gods wanted Persephone because she was a hot young slice who embodied beauty and fertility.

So Hades, god of the underworld, abducted Persephone and dragged her to his realm.

Demeter was so distraught that she forbade the earth to fruit, and winter came.

Eventually she got wind of Persephone’s whereabouts, and Zeus made Hades return Persephone to the earth, marking the season of spring and the rebirth of life.

But Persephone had tasted the fruit of the underworld in the form of pomegranate seeds, so she was fated to return to Hades every winter.

Pomegranate by Lee Travathan

Lee Travathan | Pixabay

I longed to pick a pomegranate, but they weren’t mine to pick, so I headed back to my room for a nap.

By my second night in Delphi, the waiter at the Kastalia knew me pretty well.

He knew how much I loved their hummus, their salads, their wine, their view.

salad at Kastalia Boutique Hotel

When I was done with dinner, he said to me, “What is your little name?”

“My what?” I said. (I’m crass.)

“Your little name.”

“‘My little name? Erin.”

“Erin, do you like chocolate cake?” he asked.

“I do,” I said, even though I’ve been gluten-free for 17 years.

He said, “Erin, because I like you, I will bring you chocolate cake.”

chocolate cake

The cake was tasty.

Another thing I loved about Delphi

was a peaceful moment while I was waiting for the bus back to Athens. There was a lusty breeze blowing between what I believe are chestnut trees, enormous and ancient, soaring above wrought-iron balconies with painted wooden shutters.

It was then that I noticed a restaurant sign that had the most wonderful typo I’ve ever seen. It said lamp chops. I’m an editor as well as a writer, so you might think I’m a spelling snob. But this filled me with as much happiness as drinking an Alfa under the hot Grecian sun.

lamp chops

When we arrived in Athens, I grabbed a taxi and was off to the ferry port. But that’s another story for when it’s 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Have you been to Delphi? Or are you headed there? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

The 1891 painting of the Priestess of Delphi by John Collier is in the public domain. The close-up of the single pomegranate bursting on the vine is by Lee Travathan. Delphi photos by me.


About the Author

I'm a copywriter who writes persuasive content to get my clients more leads and more sales. Here on my blog I write about how to craft content to attract customers. Cuz I like to keep things in one place, this is also where you can spy my stories on travel, food, music, and natural health. Whatever my topic, my tactic is to kill boring, excite senses, and woo with words.

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