Day 3 : Arachova - Galaxidi
Day 3 of our Greece tour “Cycling with the Gods” is in the books (second ride). We rolled out of Arachova with a 10 km down hill that took us to Delphi. We changed our shoes and spent nearly 2 hours touring Delphi, both the site (with a guide) and then the museum.
Delphi is an amazing site. It was the physical center of the Greek empire and was established in the 6th century BCE as a center of religion, culture, as well the political center. The Ancient Greeks viewed Delphi as the “belly button” (or center) of the world. They believed that the gods released an eagle from the west and another from the east and they met over Delphi as the center of the physical world. In fact there are rocks that have been found that represented the “bellybutton”. One is onsite and another is in the museum.
There were 15 treasuries within Delphi where the different political centers/states would store precious items. The largest temple was the temple to Apollo which contained 3 rooms. The first room contained the Maxims of Delphi (written on the wall), the second is where the Oracle sat, and the third was the treasure room. The oracle communicated with a senator or political leader, who interpreted her answers.
There was a large theater where music and poetry contests took place along with a stadium. Both were hosts to the Pythian games (akin to the Olympic Games).
Delphi was closed at the end of the 4th century CE as the Roman Emperor Theodocious adopted Christianity and closed the site (Rome conquered Greece in the 2nd century BCE). The site was looted by the Romans and many of the treasures were pilfered. The Romans built an agora (market place) and homes were built over the site. In the 6th century CE an earthquake destroyed much of the site. Remarkably the Greek structures were much more earthquake resistant! The columns were reinforced and the walls were large interlocking blocks that were quite resilient. Delphi was excavated beginning at the end of the 19th century by the French.
We rolled out from Delphi close to noon with temperatures hovering in the mid-80s. We continued our descent for another 12 km to the coast where we rode 9km to Itea where most of us stopped for lunch along the water. Then it was back on the bikes continuing north along the coast to Galaxidi were we have an overnight. We rode nearly 46 km (28 miles) and climbed about 200 m (nearly 700’). Of course we descended nearly 1000 m (3500’)!
Tonight we enjoyed an amazing mezze meal (think small plates like tapas), with eggplant, cheese, fried shrimp, calamari, octopus and other Greek specialties. It was a fabulous dinner. Tomorrow we plan leave early to try and beat the heat as we continue up the coast.