The temple of Poseidon, the ancient Greek god of the sea, dominates the southernmost tip of Attica, where the horizon meets the Aegean Sea. Perched on the craggy rocks of Cape Sounio, the temple is enveloped in myth and historic facts dated from antiquity until the present times.
Between myth and history
There are stories about the ship of King Menelaus who stopped briefly at Sounio on his way back from Troy; or about the unfortunate King Aegeus who drowned himself on that spot and the Aegean Sea got named after him; or about the people who built a temple using local marble to honour the god of the sea and safeguard the profits from the neighbouring Lavrio mines.
The unknown architect is probably the same one who built Theseion in the Ancient Agora of Athens. He decorated the temple with sculptures made of Parian marble (i.e. from Paros Island), which depicted the labours of Theseus as well as battles with Centaurs and Giants (Gigantes). The remaining sculptures are showcased in the Lavrio Museum whereas the impressive kouroi [male youths] that once stood in the temple yard are now on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Notice the Doric columns, count their flutes and you will see that they are less in number than those on other temples of the same period (mid 5th c. BC). This feature is also found in other seaside ancient temples, for instance in the Temple of Aphaea in Aegina etc.
What to do
Make the most of your trip by indulging in a refreshing swim in the small beach by the foot of the temple of Poseidon or in any one of the neighbouring beaches in Legrena or Lavrio! Treat yourselves to some fresh fish and seafood in the local tavernas. Drink in the lovely sunset view next to your better half – in one of Attica’s best locations – having the ancient temple as a backdrop and facing the deep blue sea!
How to get there
Sounio is located on the southernmost tip of Attica; it is the end point of the Athenian Riviera, at a 69km distance from Athens. Take the intercity coach (KTEL) from Aigyptou Sq. (Victoria ISAP Station) or travel by car along the coast of Athens and Attica (passing by Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Lagonisi, Anavyssos, Legrena and so on). You will be impressed by the lovely view of the sea and of the Saronic Gulf Islands.