The Sacred Way runs up through the terraces, and is 3.7 to 4.9meters wide. It was paved with slabs during the Roman period, taken from nearby buildings during the period of Delphi's decline. Several inches below it is the earlier road.
It begins at the Roman agora, and leads westward past monuments and treasuries before veering north and upward. Before there were any monuments there, the view of the twin cliffs must have been very moving. Some of the monuments include the huge bronze Bull of the Korcyrans , dating to the late 5th century BC., erected as a gift to Apollo. Pausanius describes how a bull on the island of Corfu had directed the local population to a school of tuna attracted to the edge of the sea by the bull's bellowing. Unable to catch the fish, they asked the oracle (Apollo) what to do, and he told them to sacrifice the bull to Poseidon, upon which the fish were caught and the bronze bull was their thank you to the god. The real bull, no doubt, felt rather short-changed (but Pausanius doesn't say). Nine bronze statues erected by the Arkadians follow, and after that, a figure of a general who defeated Sparta in a battle in the 3rd centuryBC. There are many more statues, some having connection with the Peloponnesian war, and a base for a huge bronze horse (which might have been meant as the famous Trojan Horse).
The Treasuries include that of, Sifnos,(right) which was built during the 6thcentury BC from the tremendous wealth of this Cycladic island's gold and silver mines. Many of its fine marble scultptures were found and are housed in the museum. Its temple was an Ionic building in marble with a sculpted pediment supported by two caryatids and sculpted frieze. TheTreasury of Sikyon northwest of Corinth and The Treasury of Thebes are others, the latter built of grey limestone. The Treasury of the Athenians, (below) which has been reconstructed, is a Doric structure built of Parian marble during the 5thcentury BC from the booty taken from the Persians at Marathon, and adorned with scenes of the battle between the Greeks and Amazons and legends about Thseus and Herakles (housed in the museum). Its reconstruction is a reflection of the importance of Athens in modern times and was carried out in 1906 by a French architect, using most of the original masonry. It has fluted columns supporting the porch.
The Asklipion is just behind the Athenian Treasury and consists of a small area dedicated to the man-god Asklipios (son of Apollo) and the healing arts. Common elements to all such places was a source of pure water, a temple dedicated to Asklipios, and an abaton, where patients entered into the sleep in which the god came to them in their dreams (sometimes in the form of a serpent). The water here came from a fountain fed by a spring (at the west end of the Temple of Apollo), brought to the fountain through stone ducts. The one building here seems more like a temple than an abaton, however, suggesting that the site was more devotional than curative.
The Precinct of the Goddess. Here stands the Rock of the Sibyl. According to legend, Herophile, daughter of Zeus and Lamia (the first sibyl) sang on this rock about the Trojan War and predicted the fate of Helen. Near it is a sacred spring called the Sacred Fountain which comes up from under the temple and seems to return to the earth behind the rock. An olive tree (the tree sacred to Athena) grows there today, watered by the spring.
The Rock of Leto is next to the Rock of the Sibyl. This is the rock to which Leto, mother of Apollo, brought him as a baby and taught him about dragon slaying, and from here that he went to Parnassos with bow and arrow to find the Python and slay him. Behind this rock is the Sphinx of the Naxians, with the head of a woman, the wings and breast of a bird, and the lower body of a lion. Erected during the mid-6th century BC, she guards the entrance to the temple and the precinct of the Earth Goddess as she sleeps. The Halos is beyond here on the other side of the Sacred Way. This is a circular dancing or threshing floor where, every eight years, a drama called the Stepteria was performed to honor Apollo. It is a reenactment of the god's defiling of the sanctuary (by killing the Python) and his subsequent purification, using young boys as the actors, who set fire to religious objects on a table in a hut and then flee to the Vale of Tempe.
The polygonal retaining wall of the terrace on which the temple of Apollo is built is 83meters/272feet long and was built in the 6th century of huge blocks of limestone or random shapes. The wall is inscribed with the records of granting slaves their freedom during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and total more than 800.