Serpent Column

Serpent Column in Istanbul, Turkiye

The Serpent Column, also known as the Delphi Tripod, is an ancient Greek bronze column with a unique design and historical significance. It was erected in the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, Greece, in commemoration of the Greek victory over the Persian Empire of Xerxes the Great in the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC during the Greco-Persian Wars (499 BC – 449 BC).

According the Greek historian Herodotus, the Serpent Column was originally constructed to honor the Greek god Apollo and serve as a votive offering. It consisted of three intertwined serpents whose heads formed the upper part of the column, supporting a golden tripod. The column was meant to honor the 31 Greek city-states that took part in the battle against the Persians. The column was made from melted-down Persian weapons, symbolizing the defeat of the Persian invaders.

It is said that around 324, Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (reign: 306-337) moved the column from Delphi to the Hippodrome of Constantinople. It remains standing in the city today.


The precise design and structure of the Serpent Column have been subjects of debate among historians and archaeologists. Some sources describe the column as having inscriptions on its base, while others suggest that it may have held a cauldron or a bowl atop the tripod. Unfortunately, the column has suffered damage over the centuries, and today only fragments remain.

Serpent Column in Istanbul, Turkey

A 1574 drawing showing the Serpent Column with the three serpent heads


The Column held significant cultural and religious value in ancient Greece. It was considered an important symbol of victory and a connection between mortals and the divine. The column stood in the Sanctuary of Apollo for many centuries, witnessing the rise and fall of empires and serving as a testament to the rich history of ancient Greece.

While the Serpent Column has lost some of its original grandeur, it continues to be a remarkable archaeological artifact and a testament to the artistic and technical achievements of the ancient Greeks.

Did you know…?

The serpent heads of the 8-metre (26 ft.) high column remained relatively intact until the end of the 17th century. Today, one of the heads is on display near the Istanbul Archeology Museums in Istanbul, Turkey.