God Apollo is connected with the site by his epithet Delphinios, “The Delphinian“. The epithet is connected with dolphins in the Homeric Hymn to God Apollo. Recounting the legend of how God Apollo first came to Delphi in the shape of a dolphin, carrying Cretan priests on his back. The Homeric name of the Oracle is Pytho.
Another legend held that God Apollo walked to Delphi from the north. On the way he stopped at Tempe, a city in Thessaly, to pick laurel (also known as bay tree) which he considered to be a sacred plant. In commemoration of this legend, the winners at the Pythian Games received a wreath of laurel picked in the Temple of Apollo. The name Delphi which may indicate archaic veneration of Gaia at the site.
Delphi became the site of a major Temple to Phoebus Apollo, as well as the Pythian Games and the famous prehistoric oracle. According to the Homeric-hymn to the Pythian God Apollo, God Apollo shot his first arrow as an infant which effectively slew the serpent Pytho, the son of Gaia, who guarded the spot. To atone the murder of Gaia’s son,God Apollo was forced to fly and spend eight years in menial service before he could return forgiven. A festival, the Septeria, was held every year, at which the whole story was represented: the slaying of the serpent, and the flight, atonement, and return of the God.
The ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi Archaeological Site visible today date from the 4th century BC, and are of a peripteral Doric Building. It was erected on the remains of an earlier temple, dated to the 6th century BC which itself was erected on the site of a 7th-century BC construction attributed to the architects Trophonios and Agamedes.
The 6th-century BCthe Temple of Apollo in Delphi Archaeological Site was named the “Temple of Alcmonidae” in tribute to the Athenian family who funded its reconstruction following a fire, which had destroyed the original structure. The new building was a Doric Hexastyle Temple of 6 by 15 columns. This temple was destroyed in 375 BC by an earthquake. The pediment sculptures are a tribute to Praxias and Androsthenes of Athens.
Of a similar proportion to the second temple it retained the 6 by 15 column pattern around the stylobate. Inside was the adyton, the centre of the Delphic oracle and seat of Pythia. The temple had the statement “Know thyself”, one of the Delphic maxims, carved into it and the maxims were attributed to God Apollo and given through the oracle and/or the Seven Sages of Greece.
The Temple of Apollo in Delphi Archaeological Site survived until AD 390, when the Roman emperor Theodosius I silenced the oracle by destroying the temple and most of the statues and works of art in the name of Christianity. The Delphi Archaeological Site was completely destroyed by zealous Christians in an attempt to remove all traces of Paganism.
See the Delphi Archaeological Site with one of our tours:
(during the visit of Delphi you have some free time to visit the Apollo temple on your own)