Delphi stadium

The stadium of Delphi is located on the hill above the temple of Apollo. It was built in the 5th century BC. The Pythian Games were held there. The event took place once every four years. Shortly before their commencement, the Delphians sent messengers to announce their impending opening. The games were dedicated to the god Apollo and included athletic competitions, chariot races, poetry contests, etc. The winners were decorated with laurel wreaths. In 394 BC the games were banned as pagan by Emperor Theodosius I.

The stadium consisted of two long sections of rows for spectators, a square end with a triumphal arch that acted as an entrance and a curved end. The arch was added in the 2nd century BC. by Herod Atticus, a famous Athenian benefactor. It was supported by four pillars, two of which had special niches where statues were placed. The arch was where the competitors and judges entered the stadium. Along with the arch, the limestone seats were placed, before which there were probably no seats at all or they were wooden. The northern part of the stadium was cut into the rock of the hill, while the southern part was artificially reinforced with a retaining wall. Therefore, the north side has 12 rows of seats, while the south side, because of the slope, has only 6. The stadium was 177 meters long and 25 meters wide, accommodating about 6,500 spectators. For the convenience of the spectators, a fountain was placed at its northwest end. At both ends of the course were stone blocks with slots for the runners’ fingers. They actually represented the start-finish line.

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