Today was another incredible day, providing us a mix of beautiful scenery, unique sites, and classic ancient ruins from Greece’s past. The weather was fantastic, with mostly sunny skies and temps around 80.
“Today we traveled through the heart of inland Greece. When our guide told us that the country is 80% mountainous, it was hard to imagine it. Now I see this really is the case. This mountain scenery was incredible to see today!”
Leaving our hotel around 8 a.m., we drove to the area of Meteora. Six (6) Greek monasteries are here, the earliest dating back to the early 1,300’s. Some of the older wooden structures can still be seen today. The mountain formations in this area are so unique. At every turn a new panoramic view opened up. We then entered the monastery of St. Stephen’s. Aliki took us into the chapel area. Monks for 100s of years have dedicated their lives in carefully building these with such precision. The view from the top of Kalambaka below was stunning as well.
From here we drove south to the area of Lambia. After eating lunch here we continued for just a few miles to Thermopylae. This is where the famous battle between the Spartans and the Persians took place in 480 BC. Led by King Leonidas, the battle between the “300” (there were actually other alliance soldiers who fought along with Leonardis) and the Persians happened in the narrow pass between the mountains edge and the coastline of the Aegean Sea. All there is to see here today is a large monument and statue.
Driving towards Athens now, our last stop of the day was the famous site of Delphi. Nestled in the Parnassos mountains, this classical site dates back to around the 7th century BC, with most of the ruins we saw dating to the 6th through 4th centuries. Delphi was best known as one of four places were Oracles took place. It is not mentioned in the New Testament that Paul was here. However, Delphi represents well the religious culture of the day that posed the biggest challenge to Paul’s mission journeys.
First we visited the museum of Delphi. Many amazing artifacts are on display here, including many statues, figurines, gold items, temple reliefs, and the omphalos stone (or navel stone) from the 5th century BC. One inscription found here mentions the name of Gallio of Corinth. He is mentioned in Acts 18:16, which helps us date Paul to be in Corinth between 50-52 AD or so.
Next, we climb the archaeological site. We passed by the Treasury of Athens as we climbed up to the famous Temple of Apollo. According to Greek mythology, Apollo was the god of light, life, and prophecy. He was the son of Zeus and the twin sister to Artemis.
Above this massive temple was the theater. At the top of the site was the stadium. This is the best preserved stadiums from this time period in all of Greece. We were reminded that Paul used the imagery of the running the race (I Corinthians 9:27f). He probably had stadiums like this in mind.
After descending from the site, we bussed 2 minutes to our hotel right here in Delphi. We enjoyed dinner together before we retired for the evening.