The Gymnasium


Building complex of the 4th century B.C. which comprised the xystos and the palaestra togethe with their annexes, such as the baths and restaurants. It was situated between the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia and the fountain Castalia.


The Gymnasium of Delphi was situated within the space between the fountain Castalia and the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. It consisted of a group of buildings, arrayed on two terraces, which comprised the xystos and a “paradromis” (running couloir), 6 meters wide and 172 meters long, used by the runners, as well as the palaestra with all its necessary auxiliary builings, such as the baths and the changing rooms.

On the upper terrace stood the xystos measuring 9,05 by 185,95. This was the length of a Pythic stadium. Its portico comprised 83 columns, initially of the Doric order, replaced, however, by others of the Ionic order in the Roman period. The floor of the xystos was covered with sand for facilitating the athletes. 

On the lower terrace stood the palaestra, comprising a square central court of the “impluvium” type surrounded by porticoes which were divided in rooms. There were two entrances, one from the northeast, the other from the north.The inscriptions inform us about the use of these rooms as changing room, dusting room, poolroom, possibly also of a sanctuary of Hermes or Hercules. The courtyard was intended for practicing wrestling or boxing. To the west of the palaestra  is  preserved a circular pool, 10 meters in diameter and 1.80  meters deep. It was filled with water from the Castalia fountain and it provided water to ten individual baths made of stone. In the Roman period a second bath complex was built close to the Gymnasium, in order  to provide hot water to the athletes.

Until the beginning of the excavations, the Gymnasium was buried under a monastery dedicated to the Dormition of Mary, known as “Panayia”. The palaestra was destroyed in Late Antiquity and was covered by a large building of the 6th century A.D.

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