Castalian Spring and Gymnasium – Delphi, Greece

It was believed that before entering the Sacred area, everyone visiting Delphi for religious purposes, atheletes included, was required to purify themselves in the clear and icy waters of the Castalian Spring.  The process mainly involved the washing of ones hair.  The Oracle would also wash herself here before making her pronouncements.   Lord Byron apparently believed that the spring waters would enhance the poetic spirit and he took a dip in the spring.  When he returned to London in 1812, he said “If I am a poet it is the air of Greece which has made me one.”

Water from the Spring flowed down to the Gymnasium, providing cold baths for the atheletes.  The Romans added hot baths for the atheletes training for the Pythian games in the 2nd century.  The Gymnasium included an outdoor running track as well as a covered one in case of bad weather.  Apart from being a training venue, the gymnasium was also used by poets and philosophers who taught here.


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