From Delfi to Nafpaktos


By taking mountain roads, you could in fact reach Delphi from this point, but the quicker, more direct route is through thedes, Livadeia and Arachova. Arachova, a picturesque village on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos, is know for its weavings, food and robust red wine. Delphi, of course, is the site of  the famous oracle, once considered the navel of the world, and one of its most important archaeological areas.

Every day, every year thousands come to marvel at the sights. Even if there were no ruins, the physical setting would be worth a detour. Rising above the oracle are the spectacular Phaidriades Petres (Shining Rocks), steep cliffs cleft by ravines and overlooking an immense sea of olive trees, whose softness sweetens the wild, romantic scenery above.

Among the ruins are the Temple of Apollo and the Treasuries of the city - states that line the Secred Way up to the temple of Athena and the graceful, circular Tholos below it, and the Theatre and Stadium above.

Be sure to save ample time for poking round the site, and don't forget the Museum, which is stocked with wonderful exhibits. The most famous are the Charioteer, two archaic kouroi, the Sphinx of Naxos, a 6th century.

The village of Delphi, better known for its tury bull and the head of Antnous. On the way to the sea, we pass Chryso with its plane trees and lovely view over the Gulf of Corinth, and arrive at Itea. At  nearby Kirra there are beaches and the remains of an ancient port. Proceeding westwards brings us to Galaxidi prospered during the age of sail as can be seen from its stately old mansions and the paintings of ships in its small museum.

After Galaxidi the road hugs the northern coast of the Gulf of Corinth, passing some long unspoiled beaches, as at tranquil Erateini and Agios Nikolaos (where you can catch a ferry to Aigion opposite), Monastiraki and the Trizonia islets offshore, before arriving at Nafpaktos. Nafpactos is particularly cherming, with its enclosed, fortified harbour, whose ramparts are an extension of the large Venetian castle covering the hill above. Called Lepanto by the Venetians, this was the scene of a decisive naval battle where Christian powers under Don John of Austria defeated the Turkish fleet, halting Moslem expansion.

Attractive scenery and enticing beaches follow in succession as you continue westward as far as Antirion. Here the Venetian castle, twin to the one at Rion, reminds us of the strategic importance of this gateway to the Gulf of Corinth. Nowadays, the ferry boats that cross back and forth incessantly make Antirrion an active transportation hub. But you wouldn't want to stay here, so let's hop across to the Peloponnese.