The Tholos of Athena Pronaia
The Tholos of Athena Pronaia is one of the most distinguishing monuments in Delphi and the most characteristic feature of the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia on which it was built. This circular construction of the 4th century BC is considered a masterpiece of classical architecture and it combines various architectural orders created by Theodoros of Phocea according to Vitruvius.
This unique circular structure consists of twenty Doric-style columns that support a frieze with triglyphs and metopes. Inside this column circle, there is another smaller construction of 10 Corinthian columns. The building was topped with a conical roof that also bore decorations of ‘acroteria’ that looked like dancing women. The tholos of Athina Pronaia was built by a mixture of different marbles in order to transfuse a natural multi-color effect.
For this purpose, Pentelic and Parian marble, as well as Eleusinian limestone were used in its architectural details. The building was partially reconstructed in 1938 and most of the architectural members as well as all the surviving sculptures are now found in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi. The use of this majestic Tholos is unknown but many discuss that it could have been used for the worship of a chthonic divinity.