The Temple of Athena Pronaia

Not far from the temple of Apollo is the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. The importance of the sanctuary is clearly seen in the pre-existing tradition, according to which those who wanted to put a question to the Delphic oracle had first to make a gift to Athena Proyna, who was the guardian of the prophetess Pythia. Although less well-known than its neighbor, its ruins have become an emblem of the architectural complex at Delphi. Part of these ruins is the tholos, easily visible from afar and probably the most important part of the sanctuary. The circular building, the purpose of which is unclear, is a true creation of classical architecture. It was built in the 4th century BC. It consists of a three-tiered circular base on which rise two circular columns. The outer circle is formed by 20 Doric columns, and the inner circle by 10 Corinthian columns. In order to achieve a multi-colored effect, different materials were used – the columns were made of Pantelei marble and marble from the island of Paros, and the walls were covered with a layer of blue Elisian stone.

Description: the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia /picture source:;

In 480 BC a rock mass slide causes serious damage to the tholos. Even more disastrous for the sanctuary was the earthquake of 373 BC, which destroyed a large part of it. Despite repeated attempts to restore it, the subsequent wars never allowed its complete reconstruction. Three columns with their entablature were erected in 1938. The cornice and metopes were recreated on the basis of preserved fragments of them. Some of the surviving sculptures are on display at the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.

Book your stay in Dephi now.