Delphi is both an archaeological site and
a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.
The site of Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the centre
of Grandmother Earth (or Gaia). He sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western
extremities, and the path of the eagles crossed over Delphi where the omphalos, or navel of
Gaia was found. Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle,
the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and became a major site for the
worship of the god Apollo after he slew Python, a dragon who lived there and protected the
navel of the Earth. Apollo’s sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic
sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 586 BC athletes from all over the Greek
world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic games, precursors of
the Modern Olympics. The victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown which was
ceremonially cut from a tree by a boy who re-enacted the slaying of the Python. These
games, though, were different from the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast
importance to the city of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the area surrounding Olympia.
Delphi would have been a renowned city whether or not it hosted these games; it had other
attractions that led to it being labeled the “omphalos” (navel) of the earth, in other
words, the center of the world. Delphi is small enough that walking is really
the only means of transportation required. The museum and archaeological site are both
in walking distance from the town.