During my last few days in Greece, I thought about what I wanted to write about for AHBE Lab. I had several ideas but I decided to stick with what struck me the most: Greek mythology and its relation to the landscape and architecture of the Greek civilization and other civilizations that followed.
Among the many archaeological sites visited, my favorite was the Apollo Sanctuary at Delphi. Situated in the southwest slopes of the Mt. Parnassus ridge, the site overlooks the beautiful Phocis valley. The unparalleled site of Delphi blessed the Greeks with breathtaking views and terraces that organized this ancient sanctuary. Delphi was considered by the Greeks as the center of the world, as the myth behind Delphi tells the story of Zeus sending two eagles from opposite ends of the universe to meet at the center, where the Omphalos – “Navel Stone” – is located.
Delphi was also the site of the Oracle, who delivered prophecies from Apollo. Whether good or bad, it was commonly believed the prognostications of the Oracle were true.
As one entered the sanctuary they would first come across the Agora, or open marketplace surrounded by a portico lined with Ionic columns. Continuing along the Sacred Way, worshippers would pay respect their designated treasuries. Further upward, passing the Omphalos, one would reach the Temple of Apollo where the Oracle shared prophecies with visitors. The Temple of Apollo was a central platform, as views across toward the valley and to the theatre are most spectacular from here. At the uppermost terrace, spectators viewed athletic competitions at the stadium.
Like the myths behind Delphi, every site has a story, and these stories are what make a place unique. As designers we must understand the stories of the past in order to tell stories of the present and future through our designs.