The establishment of the European Cultural Center of Delphi goes back to the late 1950s’; following the suggestions of a group of intellectuals of the period, Konstantinos Karamanlis, then prime minister of Greece, initiated the foundation of this institution. However, the discussion about the necessity of such a Center and the initiations to establish it had started much before, as early as after the end of the World War I and the foundation of the League of Nations. In mid 1920s’ the Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos and his American wife Eva Palmer were speculating about making Delphi an international intellectual center. So, in 1927 they organized the 1st Delphic Festival which, according Sikelianos, would help to establish an international center where intellectuals would meet and discuss the ways of normalizing the conflicts between nations and peoples and safeguard peace all over the world.
By the end of the World War II speculations of intellectuals about the Center revert more vivid than ever. Thus, the Greek poet and later politician Yannis Koutsoheras suggests to the International PEN to establish an international cultural center at Delphi. In 1957 the Greek government officially introduces to the European Council the plan of foundation of the Cultural Center of Delphi; according to this the Greek state would offer the land necessary for the buildings of the center. In 1962 the Committee of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the member states places the Delphic center under the auspices of the Council of Europe. And on the 28th of March 1966 the cornerstone of the conference block is being placed at Delphi. 2nd World War, the matter was once again brought back to the agenda, mainly from people from the
In 1977, after the downfall of the dictatorship in Greece, the Greek Parliament issued an act according to which the European Cultural Centre of Delphi (ECCD) 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.
Activities of the Center
Since 1984 the Center organizes the International Meetings on Ancient Greek Drama where scholars, theoreticians and researchers of ancient Greek drama can meet with theater artists and directors. Since mid 1990s’ this activity is biennial. Apart from ancient Greek drama performances, the event also includes exhibitions, symposia, theatrical workshops and other cultural and artistic activities. Until 2004 the performances took place in the ancient stadium of Delphi; from 2005 onwards, they take place at the open-air theater “Frynihos” which belongs to the European Cultural Centre of Delphi. The event brings together a great number of Greek and international cultural associations from many countries worldwide.
One of the most important activities of the Center is the Meeting of Young Artists; it organized for the first time in 2007, during the XIII International Meeting on Ancient Drama. The event aims at bringing together young artists and students with the artists and masters of international theater.
The Center also organizes various events in Fine Arts; painting and sculpture exhibitions, symposia, seminars and residency programs are some of these activities. Moreover, since 1994 there have also been established a Sculpture Park and a permanent Collection of Contemporary Art.
Recently, the Delphic Center has inaugurated an Educational two-weeks Program for teachers of Ancient Greek and scholars of Classical Studies. Some 60 teachers participate every year to these seminars. The participants are trained by University professors of Classical studies and of Research Centers from Greece and the respective country. Among others, the program of the seminars consists in teaching of ancient Greek language through computers.
In the framework of the educational program a data bank with full information about the seminars and the participants has been built up.
The Center in co-operation with the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs of Greece and under the auspices of the Greek Parliament organizes every year the Students’ Panhellenic Reasoning Competition. Following the international protocols, the Competition aims at developing the critical thought and other skills as public speaking, speech documentation and building of arguments, a concept with analogies to ancient Rhetoric.
It is also organized an annual European students’ competition on Ancient Greek Language and Literature.
Along with the educational program and the activities concerning the Ancient Greek Drama, the Center also organizes conferences and seminars on other fields, as Music, Dance, Cinema, Museology, Philosophy, Fine Arts, as well as various anniversary events.
One of the most interesting projects of the Center is the pretty ambitious project of reconstruction of the ancient Hydraulis of Dion which started in 1995 and was completed in 1999. The research team, made up of famous scholars and professors both Greek and from other countries, had cooperated with Demetrios Pantermalis, professor of Archaeology at the University of Thessaloniki who, during the excavations at Dion in Northern Greece, had discovered the upper part of the musical instrument called “hydraulis”; this particular find has been dated in the 1st century b.C. In order to reconstruct the instrument as precisely as possible, a detailed study and research of ancient sources was carried out. The team also studied the ancient Greek musical scales and investigated in depth the use, the treatment of the materials necessary (metal, wood, leather, welding, rivets, screws, etc) and the processing methods in antiquity. The first presentation of the reconstructed musical instrument was held in Japan, during the events for the centenary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Greeece. Ever since, several presentations and exhibitions of the Hydraulis have taken place both in Greece and in other countries.