The worship of goddess Athena in Delphi, who was one of the first ceremonious deities along with Apollo, started towards the end of the 7th century BC, as testified by traces of her own sanctuary. According to mythology, goddess Athena had numerous epithets reflect that she had a variety of roles and responsibilities. In Delphi, Athena “Pronaia” was worshipped. Literally, the epithet “Pronaia”, has to do with the exact location of goddess’s sanctuary. Meaning, it was the first sanctuary to be seen by the visitors approaching Delphi from the east. It is one of the oldest buildings in Delphi, which was pre –housed the rituals in worship of Gaia.
The temples’ construction date was proximate the 7th century B.C. and it was built by greyish poros stone. This initial building was destroyed and rebuilt twice. The second temple was constructed ca. 500 B.C by superior quality poros stone with a reddish hue, probably under the instigation of the Alcmaeonids. The third one, built around 360 B.C, was created by limestone.
The Tholos was the most impressive building within the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. It is a circular building, which comprised almost all styles of Classical architectural design, whereas it offered a sense of polychromy due to the combination of materials, particularly of natural stones. The tholos is a synthesis of most styles of Classical architecture. It rests on a three-stepped podium and the twenty Doric columns of the outer peristyle supported a Doric frieze of triglyphs and metopes with relief decoration. Inside the cella were ten engaged Corinthian columns. It stands between the temple of Athena Pronaia and the treasury of the Massaliots. Vitruvius mentions that the Tholos’ architect was Theodore the Phocaean, from Phocaea in Asia Minor. The monument was built in 380-370 B.C. and it was destroyed by a fire in the 1st century B.C. Christians disfigured the building’s relief decoration in later years. It was partly restored in 1938. Its function still remains a mystery although there are aspects that support the worship of a chthonic deity.