The Temple of Apollo at Delphi measured 21.6m x 58.2m, smaller than the Parthenon at Athens, which measured 30.9m x 69.5m. Measuring 2.7m x 3.7m, the adyton was the seat of the Pythia (oracle) and probably was located on the western end of the naos (cella). While many components remain unknown about the temple's interior, the materials used and the basic architectural design of the exterior are largely established.
The temple was of a peripteral design, including a ramp leading up to a pronaos in the front of the temple and an enclosed opisthodomus in the rear. Thirty-eight Doric columns surrounded the stylobate on the exterior: six along the front and back, fifteen along the sides (including the end columns in each case). The exterior columns, measuring 1.6m in diameter at the base and 10.7m in height, were constructed from Corinthian limestone and covered with a white stucco made from marble dust. Sections of the entablature and foundations of the temple also were constructed of the limestone native to Mount Parnassus. Grey stone was used to construct the naos (cella) and pavement. Cyprus wood beams supported the roof, which was most likely constructed of pure marble, mimicking the Parthenon (see Dinsmoor and Lawrence).
The first Temple of Apollo at Delphi was built in the 7th c. BCE under the architectural guidance of Trophonios and Agamedes. After a fire ruined the original structure, it was rebuilt in the 6th c. BCE with the financial support of the exiled Athenian family, the Alkmaeonids. It was reconstructed for the third time in 330 BCE by the Corinthian architects, Spintharos, Xenodoros and Agathon, after an earthquake devastated the temple in 373 BCE. Skilled Athenian sculptors, Praxias and Androsthenes, created the sculptures ornamenting the pediment of the temple. The Temple of Apollo was eventually destroyed in 390 AD by Emperor Theodosius I in order to silence the oracle in the name of Christianity.
Delphi was considered the center of the earth by many ancient Greeks. Myths tell of a pair of eagles, set free to fly in opposite directions of the world, that eventually met back together again in Delphi. According to other legends, in the beginning of time Gaia, or Mother Earth, was the cardinal prophetess who lived at Delphi with her son, Python, who was a snake. All was changed when Apollo came to Delphi and killed Python so that he could rule over Gaia. Appropriately, this was the location for the Pythian Games. The Pythian Games were held every three years in honor of Apollo; he was portrayed with a crown of laurels and a lyre or a bow (Guerber 1893, 91).
Temples and sanctuaries were dedicated more frequently to specific gods and goddesses, especially Apollo, during the sixth century BCE to help rebuild a new community after fire devasted the area. According to Herodotus, the Athenian family of the Alkmaeonids donated vast amounts toward the reconstruction of the temples (Pedley 2005, 138). It is said that the first dedicatory temple for Apollo was built of
Apollo was known by many names: Sol, Helios, Cynthius, Pytheus, or Phoebus; god of the sun, fine arts, poetry, music, and medicine (Guerber 1893, 61). Apollo is the son of Jupiter, god of the sky, and Leto, representing the dark night, and was born on the island of Delos (Guerber 1893, 386).