It is not common knowledge that Claros ranges among the three most important oracles in antiquity, together with Delphi and Didyma.
The first cult of Claros occurred at some time during the 7th century on a round altar, which a century later was replaced by a larger rectangular altar measuring circa 15x6 meters. At the same time, the foundations were laid for the marble
at the nearby spring and another yet smaller temple was erected in honor of his sister, Artemis. This makes the oracle of Claros the oldest prophecy center in the ancient world. Temple of Apollo
The sanctuary remained overall untouched till the 4th century BC when plans were made to enlarge the monuments. These plans were, however, only realized in the third century BC with the construction of a new
and a new altar. The temple seems to be inspired by the one in Temple of Apollo Delphi having a similar crypt-like adyton where the oracle delivered her prophecies. The vaulted corridors are still visible today, although the passage is more often than not flooded by the sacred spring.
It seems the renovation works were never completed and it is astonishing to learn that only a few years ago (2006) divers found eight drums for an entire ten-meter high column and its capital in Doric style in the nearby shipwreck of Kızılburun, about
40 miles from Claros (see: Sunken column finally delivered to the Apollo Temple in Claros). It clearly never made it to the temple.
Unlike most oracles in antiquity, the diviners in Claros were men. After fasting for 24 or 48 hours, the question was whispered in the ear of the oracle. He then drunk some of the holy water, reappeared from the cave room, washed his hands and face, and formulated the question to the god Apollo. Through either inspiration or revelation, he later received the answer which he delivered to the priest in the shape of a poem. These rituals were held at night and the messages were written on tables that were erected in front of the temple for all to see. Yet, their content travelled as far as Dalmatia,
Rome, Sardinia, Algeria, and even Britain and ! With the spread of Christianity, the oracle was gradually abandoned. Russia
Today’s visitor can still admire the remains of the
with its vaulted adyton when it is not flooded. This happens generally in spring since Claros is located in the river valley and the temple itself is below the local water table. Yet, this adds to the charm of the place. Temple of Apollo
In front of the temple, archaeologists have painstakingly reassembled the fragments of three colossal sculptures, a seated Apollo holding his lyre, flanked by Leto and Artemis, standing
It seems that even Alexander the Great consulted this oracle before building the fortress on the nearby hill of Pagos where the residents from