This is going to be an introductory post of a series of entries featuring photos and some thoughts from my recent Greece trip last April 2012 with my family.
Sometimes, my messy self tends to do certain things backwards, such as reading a magazine (I often begin flipping through the last pages to the front) and studying (I like reviewing my lessons starting from the last chapter). Therefore, I somehow managed to first sort through the photos of our final day tour in Greece. I made sure to arrange the photos in chronological order though! I will also make sure that after this post, the rest of the entries in this series will start from day one.
Our last day tour was in Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As a site of ancient archaeological and architectural ruins, it is one of the most important sanctuaries in Greek history. This is where people worshipped and asked for wise counsel from the gods that they believed in. This place is similar to the modern religious temples, mosques, and churches that people visit today.
We rode a couple of hours from Athens to this far-flung town, along a mountain slope, at the lower-center of Greece. People from 400 to 800 B.C. walked many miles to reach this place to ask for advice from the oracle of Delphi, Pythia, which is the equivalent of a “priestess”, to whom they sought advice on personal, political, or stately affairs.
Delphi was once believed to be the place that was closest to the gods, a place where heaven and earth collide.
So many events took place here, including cultural festivals and athletic games. Pythian Games which were also held here in honor of Apollo. The Pythian Games was part of a series of athletic events known as the Panhellenic Games, held every four years. This four-year period is called an Olympiad, and now, the Greek tradition of holding grand athletic events every four years is still alive in today’s postmodern world, which everyone now knows as the Olympics, with the latest Summer Games having recently commenced in London today.
I could gush about the London 2012 Games and how it is an incredible testament to humanity’s progress and creativity all day, but that belongs in a separate post. London is now preparing for the biggest Paralympic Games in history which will be held in a couple of weeks. In two years, Sochi, Russia will host the Winter Games. Grand world events such as this are already so exhilarating to talk about. It’s my dream to take part in one at least once in my life.
Some Olympic trivia: Chariot racing is one of the events in the Games. In Delphi, prizes are not medals, but laurel wreaths.
After hundreds of centuries, mostly fallen marble rocks of the colossal structures have been preserved over time, but they are still picturesque nonetheless.
Treasuries are architectural structures, usually made of marble, built to protect valuables, such as jewelry, gold, and other offerings to the gods. Treasuries are somewhat like the modern banks of today, only without the strict security and sophisticated banking systems.
Delphi was deemed as a symbol of unity in Ancient Greece, a sanctuary of treasuries and temples built by people to honor the gods.
The marble structure in the middle is the facade of the Athenian treasury, one of the most prominent treasuries built around 5th century B.C.
These are what remains of the temple of Apollo. Apollo was the god of music, prophecy, poetry, dance, archery, medicine, and knowledge. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon, the most important deities in Greek history.
Those are the hands of our remarkably intelligent and kindhearted tour guide, Katherine, who I would love to be my history teacher, offering very detailed and intellectual insights of the stories behind every place we stop by. I’ll show more of her in my future posts.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad and me, standing in front of the Temple of Apollo.
My dad, his best friend and his wife, marveling at the sights around them.
That’s my pretty younger sister, who always dresses up ever so daintily when we travel.
Facing the mountains. If I had all the time in the world, I want to stay here and walk around this place all day.
There were many Western tourists here, clad with their Ray-Ban sunglasses, digital cameras, and trademark freckles.
Spot our tour guide Katherine talking to another local.
We then visited the Delphi Archaeological Museum, which houses plenty of relics and ancient artifacts. The exhibits here come from the 18th century B.C., until around second century B.C.
The two twinlike statues at the far right of the photo above are the Kouros Statues of the Archaic Period, which is around early 6th century B.C. According to ancient Greek historian Herodotus, these two brothers, as Kleovis and Biton, according to myth pulled their mother on her chariot to the sanctuary where she was to worship for about 8 kilometers, then died the same night in their sleep.
One of the artifacts that amazed me the most, these carvings etched on marble stone are actually musical notes. Dating from around 3d century B.C., archaeologists have deciphered these signs as Delphic Hymns, dedicated to Apollo. It is the earliest surviving musical notation in the Western world.
This was one of the narrow roads that we passed on the way back to Athens.
About four-fifths of Greece is mountainous. On our trip to and from Delphi, we were surrounded by mountain landscapes all around us.
This a faraway view of the most iconic classical Greek temple, the Parthenon. I shall talk more about this beautiful masterpiece in one of my next entries!