Archaeological Sites and Museums in Central Greece


Archaeological Site
In historical times the worship of Apollo succeeded that of Phoebe and Earth-Themis at the Delphic sanctuary which became famous for its oracle, one of the oldest in Greece. As in the case of Olympia, games used to be held in Delphi, likewise in honour of the deity and they were known as the Pythian Games but they were not confined to field events, since they included contests among poets, musicians. philosophers, etc. The temple of Apollo dominated in the center of the sanctuary's enclosure. The Sacred Way led up to the temple. It was lined by elegant buildings such as Treasuries, Arcades (“Stoas”), the Stoa of the Athenians being one of these. Administrative buildings included the seat of the Delphic Senate (Vouleutirion), the Prytaneion and the Club of the Knidians and, of course, hundreds of votive offerings. Masterpieces of sculpture were to be seen among the decorations of the Treasuries of the Sikyonians, the Sifnians and the Athenians. To the north stand the remains the theater and below the road are the ruins of the Gymnasium and the temples of Athena Pronoia (also known as “Marmaria”) with the famous 4th century B.C. Tholos (Argade).

The more interesting of the architectural pieces exhibited come from the metopes of the Treasuries of the Sikyonians and of the Athenians and from the frieze and the carvings the Treasury of the Sifnians. All date from the 6th century B.C. The frieze on the Treasury of the Sifnians depicts the Judgment of Paris, the seizure of the Leukippides by the Dioskouri, the Assembly of the Olympian gods watching a battle in the Trojan War and a battle with giants. The pediment shows Apollo and Hercules struggling for possession of the Delphi Tripod. Some of the best sculptural works are those the twin Kouri, Kleovis and Viton (6th century B.C.), the bronze statue of the Charioteer exvoto of Polyzalos, King of Gela (5th century B.C.), the statue of Aghias (4th century B.C.), from the votive offering of Daochos, Antinoos (2nd century B.C.), etc. The Naxians presented a Sphinx as a votive offering (6th century B.C.). The Column of Dancing Girls is another votive offering and so is the Omphalos (Navel of the World) which is a copy made either in the Hellenistic the Roman period. Gilt, ivory and golden votive offerings from the archaeological site of Delphi and a silver bull in natural size, have also been recently exhibited in a separate room.

Ossios Loukas Monastery (Saint Loukas Monastery)

This is an 11th century A.D. Byzantine monastery dedicated to Saint Loukas Steiriotis from the Greek mainland. It has churches adjoining it which are completely unlike in every respect. The smaller and older church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and has slender proportions with its dome supported on four pillars. The interior contains the remains a few original frescoes. The larger church of Ossios Loukas, which is the monastery chapel, represents the fuller form of the so-called octagonal style which made its appearance in Greece at that time. This style of architecture implies a cruciform church with dome resting upon eight arches which in turn, rest upon walls and pillars which transfer the load to the outer walls. The dome thus becomes very large and covers the entire center portion of the church. The original dome fell in during an earthquake in 1593, but was rebuilt.

The church consists of a narthex, the main church and the altar. The outer narthex was added in the 16th century A.D. The exterior of the church carries much skilled masonry triple aperture windows, while inside, some excellent mosaics have been preserved. In the apse there are representations of the Virgin and Child on her Throne. The lower dome of the altar shows the Pentecost in circular form while the spherical triangles of the dome show the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Presentation and Baptism in the narthex, is the Washing of Christ's Feet, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the scene with Saint Thomas stretching forth his hand. At the northern end of the cross formed by church, is a crypt dedicated to Saint Barbara inside which is the tomb of Ossios Loukas.

Other points which can be visited in Central Greece are:

The Museums of Thermo (near Agrinio), Thebes, Chaironia (Heronia), Halkis, Eretria, Kaveiriou Archaeological Site (close to Thebes) and the Treasury of Minyas Orhomenos.


In Thessaly there are the Larissa, Volos, and Almiros Museums to be seen, the Acropolis of Sesklo and the Archaeological Site of Vassilika at Anhialos and the monastic complex of Meteora.


In Epirus it is well worth the while to visit the Ioannina Archaeological and Municipal Museum, the Dodoni Archaeological Site, the Museum and Archaeological Site at Nikopolis near Preveza, the Acheron River Necromanteion (Oracle where the spirits of the dead were called upon) and the Kassopi Archaeological Site.

At Mouzakaioi (Mouzakei), 12 km out of Ioannina, there is a wax effigies museum. The exhibits cover historical, religious and folkloric subjects of the period 1611-1822.