The European Cultural Centre of Delphi (E.C.C.D.) was founded in 1977, upon the inspiration and initiative of Konstantinos Karamanlis with the view of setting up a European and worldwide intellectual centre in Delphi. The first thoughts and discussions started in the 1930s when, in the aftermath of the Delphic Festivals (1927 & 1930), the Parliament and the Senate passed a law providing for the establishment and organisation of an International Intellectual Cooperation Centre similar to the “treasures” of the ancient Greek city of Delphi. In 1957, Greece filed a draft proposal to the Council of Europe for the foundation of an Intellectual Centre in Delphi, which was also accepted. The construction of the conference venue began in 1966, based on the architectural plans of architects Kostas Kitsikis and Antonios Lampakis. The construction was completed in 1970. The cost was covered by state funds and funds of the Council of Europe.
In 1977, by an act of the Greek Parliament, the European Cultural Centre of Delphi (E.C.C.D.) was established as a “corporate body under private law”, under the supervision of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the auspices of the Council of Europe.
According to its founding law, its aim is to “serve international cultural interests” and “develop common cultural principles that will unite the peoples of Europe” through the “publication of studies on European culture, the organisation of cultural meetings and other artistic activities…”
During his meeting with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Franz Karasek, on 15 April 1980, Konstantinos Karamanlis said: Greece, in my opinion, can become an international cultural centre, with the revival of some institutions of the antiquity such as the European Cultural Centre of Delphi and the Olympic Games.
Delphi was an ancient religious sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Developed in the 8th century B.C., the sanctuary was home to the Oracle of Delphi and the priestess Pythia, who was famed throughout the ancient world for divining the future and was consulted before all major undertakings. It was also home of the Pythian Games, the second most important games in Greece after the Olympics. Delphi declined with the rise of Christianity and was ultimately buried under the site of a new village until the late 1800s.
Located about six miles (10 km) from the Gulf of Corinth in the territory of Phoics in Greece, Delphi is situated between two towering rocks of Mount Parnassus known as the Phaidriades (Shining) Rocks.
The site contained the sanctuary of Apollo, the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia — meaning, “Athena who is before the temple (of Apollo)” — and various other buildings, most of which were intended for sports, such as the gymnasium used for exercise and learning.
When visitors approached Delphi, the first structure they saw was the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia (hence its name). This sanctuary contained the most characteristic monument at Delphi: the Tholos, a circular building with a conical roof supported by a ring of outer columns.
Visitors would then walk along the Sacred Way, a path to the sanctuary of Apollo that was lined with treasuries and votive monuments. Given that Delphi was a pan-Hellenic sanctuary, it was not controlled by any one Greek city-state and instead was a sanctuary for all Greeks — city-states constructed the treasuries as offerings to Apollo and to show off their power and wealth.