Excursion Athens Coast Cape Sounion Temple Poiseidon
Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
About an hours drive, (70km/42 miles) along the winding coast road from Athens, which overlooks the sea and numerous coves and swimming spots lies the Temple of Poseidon Built in 444 BC., this majestic temple is ideally situated as a landmark for mariners of the past and present.
Its sunsets and panoramic view put it high on the list of visual Greek feasts. Although there are better preserved temples in Greece such as The Temple of Aphea on Aegina this temple is easier to reach and its setting unparalleled. Inhabited since 3000 BC, Sounion belonged to the State of Athens whose patron goddess was Athena.
Being a maritime state, Athens also need the protection of Poiseidon the Earth Girdler and King of the Seas. Sounion was also strategic in controlling southern Attica and the silver mines of Lavrion. The Athenians turned it into a fortification and temple.
Archeologist arent sure who the archetect was but agree it was the same one who built the Temple of Hephaistius/Thission in Athens' ancient agora.
The most important find from Sounion is the 'Sounion Kouros' ( nude youth) 7th century BC and in Athens National Archeology museum.
Its 15 remaining Doric columns are remarkable in that they have 4 fewer flutes than the standard 20 to offer less surface area to erosion from the elements. An Ionic frieze of Parian marble depicts Theseus in his mythological battle with the Lapthians and Centaurs.
Lord Byron in a fit of childish exuberance carved his initials into one of the columns and many others have followed this flawed precedent. Today that means the hoosgow or a huge fine!
One can take one of the numerous Sounion tour buses that visit here daily or better still hire: Your Own Private Driver (see below) and travel in air conditioned comfort, stop for a swim and then dine in a wonderfull seaside taverna away from the crowds before or after viewing the Temple. Varkiza (en route) has a famous bakery with lots of goodies to tempt as well. This is less expensive than the tour if you have companions. Entrance not included.