Turns out the circular colonnade ruins that Daniel had printed a photo of, and pointed at, telling me, “This is the Oracle of Delphi” was not. It was the tholos at the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, down the hill. The sphinx, from “The Neverending Story” that I imagined as the Oracle of Delphi was very similar to the sphinx reconstructed in the Delphi Museum. We saw statues of Antinous, some very Ancient Greek bronze charioteer, lots of headless torsos and a couple of Kourios twins. It was like my art history atlas in real life.
Delphi, unlike Disneyland, was not built for optimal tourism in the 21st century: there is no disabled access, it’s on the side of a mountain and the gift shop was closed. We loved it though. Walking behind a large group of early twenties multinationals, who were taking selfies and running around with the energy of young people, we were treated to the discovery of ripe mulberries growing from trees along the path.They were off the path, pulling at the branches and eating berries. We found a few as well, our hands and my chest quickly getting stained. Real old people scurried past and tutted.
At the top of the complex is a stadium. The unit of length of one Pythian stade is 178.35 metres. I’m sure I won’t remember that and that I’ll never need to recall that. More interestingly, the athletes competed wearing only a helmet and greaves and carrying a shield. All weekend I’ve wished the interpretation at these historic sites would evolve from faded signs of text and trivia to immersive experiential installations with re-enactments. I happily imagined what the re-enactment of the competing athletes would be like.