The Delphic landscape

The archaeological site of Delphi and its region, surrounded by the mountains of Parnassus, Giona and Kirphe, and stretching mainly among the settlements of Amphissa, Arachova, Delphi, Itea, Kirra, Agios Georgios, Agios Konstantinos and Sernikaki, constitutes a landscape of exquisite beauty, outstanding world-wide historical value and artistic importance. No wonder that Delphi has been included in UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Besides the actual monuments of the archaeological site of Delphi, the region comprises a number of monuments and sites, dating from the Prehistoric to the Modern period; all of them stand out for their archaeological, historical aesthetic and social value which, along with the surrounding rural and forest regions, the so-called Delphic Landscape, constitute a testimony to the history of the region. Together they have contributed greatly to the formation of an educational and spiritual center which represents eternal human values.
For the protection of this region, which was considered "sacred land" in antiquity and was offered to the god Apollo, the Greek State has designated zones of protection. These zones aim at maintaining "the unique value of the monument which is born of the harmony among the ruins of the sanctuary and the unscathed environment (...). One has to let one's gaze wander from the silvery sea of the olive trees to the valley of Pleistos and to the sparkling sea of the Gulf of Itea, in order to realize that the role of Delphi was to unite islanders and landlubbers in joint rituals", to quote the report of ICOMOS for the enlisting of Delphi in the World Heritage List.

Geomorphology of Delphi 
Delphi is built at the feet of the imposing Phaedriades, two enormous cliffs which form part of the south side of Mt. Parnassus. They command a narrow plateau, which formed –possibly – the only passageway leading from Attica and Boeotia to the heart of Phocis and Western Greece. Fossil examination has proved that the rocks belong to the Jurassic and the Cretaceous period. The softer soils are mostly limestone and schist. The schist plaques present faults, as is evident on the spot where the temple of Apollo was built. This resulted in making them vulnerable to earthquakes as well as to corrosion of the earth. Although they were erected on a mountainous and rocky area, the buildings of Delphi suffered damage from earthquakes several times in their long history and were often almost entirely destroyed. Corrosion of the ground, on the other hand, as well as land-sliding of the plaques cause rock-falls, such as the one which destroyed the first poros stone temple at Marmaria. Finally, the constant sliding of the earth under the ancient monuments, particularly in steep areas, like the one on which the ancient theatre of Delphi is built, presents a major threat.

Text: Anthoula Tsaroucha, Arxahaeologist, Dr. Aphrodite Kamara, Historian 
Translation: Dr. Aphrodite Kamara, Historian