Dodoni Oracle

Where tomorrow is predictable

Engraving of Dodoni Theatre
By far the most important archaeological site in Epirus, Dodoni is located just 20 km south of the city of Ioannina.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the ancient theatre, the temple of Dodonian Zeus, a large early-Christian basilica and, of course, the famous oracle.
The oracles spoke its prophecies through the rustling of the leaves of a sacred oak tree, the murmuring of the water from a nearby spring, the fluttering of the doves and the sounds of the wind as it shook a row of bronze tripods or rattled three bronze "dice" in a copper dish. According to Herodotus, the Dodoni oracle was established by two priestesses from Thebes in Egypt, who were abducted by Phoenicians, and turned into two black doves. After a long journey, one of the priestesses arrived in Dodoni, sat on a branch of the holy oak tree and, speaking in a human voice, demanded that an oracle be established there.

Homer speaks of the area as first inhabited in the 18th century BC by the Hellopes (or Helloi or Selloi), a Thesprotian tribe. The Thesprotians remained until the end of the 5th century BC when they were ousted by the Molossians.
The Temple of Zeus (first built in the early 4th century BC) was rebuilt and expanded by King Pyrrhus of Epirus at the beginning of the 3rd century BC. The famous Epirot King inaugurated festivities to be held in Dodoni every four years, including athletic competitions. He also built the temples of Hercules and Diona, the first theatre and a wall to protect the oracle and the holy tree.
Dodoni was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times and continued to draw supplicants until the early Christian era. In 391 AD, the holy tree was finally cut down and the oracle ceased functioning. Materials from the partially ruined buildings were used during the 5th and 6th centuries AD to erect two early Christian basilicas, later destroyed by various barbarian tribes.

Visit Dodoni
By car from Metsovo (1.5 hours). A guided tour takes between 2 and 3 hours.