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The Delphi Tholos

May 9, 2013

Delphi 1The sanctuaries of Athena and Apollo are awe inspiring, peaceful and beautiful. The beauty of the site captures the imagination of its visitors, fired by the energy that seems to run through the area.

Suppliants seeking the advice of the Pythian Oracle and Apollo would first have to make sacrifices to Athena in her sanctuary before proceeding further.

The Tholos of Delphi is located in the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. The design, style and location makes this one of my favorite pieces of architecture. The photo shows a partial reconstruction of what was an impressive building.

The Tholos was designed by Theodorus from Phokaia and was likely constructed around the 4th century BC.  The twenty exterior columns were of the Doric order whereas the ten inner columns were Corinthian in style. The Tholos was decorated by a number of different sculptures but particularly triglyphs and metopes. The metopes depicted battles between the Amazons and Centaurs; a partially preserved metope is shown in the below picture.

Delphi 2

The function of the Tholos is unclear, though I would speculate that given the design it may have housed a number of sculptures. Personally I would go so far as to suggest that there may have been a large cult statue in the central space; particularly given the vast open area. However, there is no evidence to support any specific theory and so this remains open for debate.

The following site has a particularly good image of an  exterior reconstruction.

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