The ruins of the temple of Poseidon are the main attraction in Cape Sounio. The temple was built at the edge of the cape, 60m above the sea level overlooking Sounio bay. Greeks dedicated the temple to Poseidon, the god of Sea so the sailors can visit it for pilgrimage, leave gifts, make animal sacrifices, the mighty sea along with strong winds were a big trouble for them so they needed help from the powerful god of the sea (which was high in hierarchy, second only to Zeus!)
There was a temple on the same spot from the archaic era (800-600BC) but destroyed by the Persians in 480BC invasion. The temple we know was built in 440BC (during Pericles reign) in hexastyle (which was the standard that time, with 6 Doric columns for the façade) with colonnade on all sides. Unfortunately we can only see only 15 of the 42 columns standing but I’m still impressed visiting the site and I can now forgive the byzantine Emperor Arcadius that destroyed the temple in 399AD. Some huge marble kouros statues that were found in the area can be seen at Athens Archaeological Museum.
You are not allowed to walk through the ruins but you can easily imagine the central hall of worship where probably was a large statue of Poseidon (I guess with the typical trident as he can be seen in many paintings of that time)
The entrance fee is 4euros (discount price 2euros)
It is open until sunset
Yes, just the ruins but worth it because these ruins are in a beautiful spot with great view and the sunset there is just perfect. After checking the temple we took some pictures around, you can see the lazy greeks just drinking at café (pic 2) or you can help fellow travellers having a pic in front of the temple (pic 3), watch the birds around or just take some extra pics of the ruins (pic 4).
The last years we go to Sounio if we host friends from abroad, I like to take them there and standing at the edge of the cliff 60m above the sea level and tell them the story of Aegeas, a king of Athens that jumped off the cliff, hence the name of Aegean sea.
His story was a popular in our school mythology books. Athens and powerful Crete were in conflict when King of Crete Minos offered peace if Athens would send 7 young men and 7 young girls every nine year to Crete where Minotaur ate them inside the famous labyrinth! Athenians lost the first 2 games but then Aegeas sent his young Theseas the third time to fight with the vicious monster. Upon his departure he just told him to put on the boat white sails if he could manage to kill the Minotaur. Theseas managed to kill the beast but forgot to change the sails so when his father saw the black ones got depressed and jumped despaired into the sea! Since then Aegean sea took his name…
Cape Sounio is famous for the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon but many of us visit the general area for the beaches. You will see lot of them along the south coast of Attica as you drive from Athens to Sounio. Don’t forget that the area of Sounio is one of the most expensive in Greece with rich people having their upscale summer homes around there.
It’s amazing to see a beach just a few meters away from the temple, you can chill out in the cold clean waters with the shadow of the ancient temple on your back, what more can you ask? :) But apart from this beach you can find many others between Sounio and Lavrio, most of them are not organized which means no chairs and umbrellas but calm clean beaches. Due to the proximity to residential areas you can combine your swim with a good lunch at a local tavern.
The Temple of Poseidon was built in 444 BC and had 34 pillars Today only 15 of them remain. Although Lord Byron carved his name into one if the pillars in 1810, he was neither the first or last person to disfigure the base of the temple. (No longer permitted).
The Temple of Poseidon is set on a cliff 65m above the Aegean Sea. The original temple was built around 600 BC, destroyed in 480 BC by the Persians, and rebuilt by Pericles in 440 BC.
The architect of the Temple of Poseidon was probably Ictinus. It had 34 Doric columns, 15 of which still survive. The columns were engineered differently than the usual columns of the day, with 16 grooves instead of the normal 20, to reduce the effect of erosion by sea spray.
Lord Byron visited the ruins in 1810 and carved his name on a column, which led many other visitors to do the same in the future.
The best time to see the temple is around sunset. Arrive to see it in broad daylight and stick around to see it change colors as the sun goes down in the distance.
Admission is charged. Hours are 8am-sunset in the summer and 10am-sunset in the winter.
There is a subsidised rate for EU citizens over the age of 65 at 2 Euros. Other adults pay 4 Euros.
You can get fairly close to the temple, but nowhere near touching distance! They are very concerned about preservation.
However, you can walk around, admire the location & open scenery stretching far out.
The site is a popular day excursion for tourists from Athens, with sunset over the Aegean Sea viewed from the ruins a sought-after spectacle.
You will see a fabulous sunset which is considered to be the most wonderful in Attica!
You may watch my 3 min 37 sec VIDEO-Clip Sounio Slide-show out of my VT-Tube or Sounio Slide-show out of my YouTube with popular Greek music by Vangelis.
From this jutting headland, there is a panoramic view of the surrounding Aegean islands.
Nearby there are the islets of Makronisi and Patroklou (west).
Further away, to the south, the larger islands of Kea, Kithnos, Serifos.
To the east, looming behind Kea can be seen the 994 m peak of Andros island.
To the west, the mountainous shore of the Argolis peninsula, across the Saronic Gulf.
There were two ancient temples on this site, one dedicated to Athena (of which only the foundations remain – I didn’t see it) and the other the famous one to Poseidon.
Construction on a grand Temple of Poseidon began around 500 BC but was never completed; the temple and all the votive offerings were destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. The Temple of Poseidon that now stands at Soúnio was built in 444 BC atop the older temple ruins.
As with all Greek temples, the Poseidon building was rectangular, with a colonnade on all four sides. The total number of original columns was 42: 18 columns still stand today. The columns are of the Doric Order. They were made of locally-quarried white marble. They were 6.10 m high, with a diameter of 1 m at the base and 79cm at the top.
At the centre of the temple colonnade would have been the hall of worship (naos), a windowless rectangular room, similar to the partly intact hall at the Temple of Hephaestus. It would have contained, at one end facing the entrance, the cult image, a colossal, ceiling - height (6m) bronze statue of Poseidon.
You may watch my 1 min 31 sec VIDEO-Clip Sounio Temple of Poseidon out of my VT-Tube or Sounio Temple of Poseidon out of my YouTube with popular Greek music by Vangelis.
Cape Sounio has been recognized since prehistoric times as a special place of worship, and was an important sanctuary during the Greek Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods.
Cape Sounion is renowned for the ruins of the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea in classical mythology. The remains are perched on the headland, surrounded on three sides by the sea.
In my personal opinion, the temple of Poseidon is just another place of rubble with still few intact columns. I must say though, the view of the open sea from that hill top is absolutely amazing. If you would like to see this temple after dark when they illuminate it, you will have to stay overnight in the village below. The last bus to Athens is actually at 21.00 hours and they switch on the lights at about the same time, so unless you go during Oct or so, you will have to stay overnight. We went in August and we were hoping to take the pictures after dark but after the guy told us the illumination timings, we grabbed 20.00 hrs bus. I read at many places but to be very honest, you will see much better sunset from tons of other places. Yes, its certainly nice to see the sun setting on ocean horizon, still not the best.
IMHO, its not worth spending time and money if you are there anytime less than 4 days. If you are close-by on your sea and sun vacation then yes, you should make a stop. (The road connecting Athens and Sounion is FULL of sea & sun tourist resorts)
An archaic Doric Temple in the ancient city of Paestrum, the TEMPLE OF HERA II or better known as the Temple of Poseidon, is one of the best preserved temples in the world.
Constructed 470 to 460 B.B, it measures 60 x 25 metres. Most of the 36 colums have survived and were made of the local travertine, but originally were covered with stucco to give the impression of marble.
Hans and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this wonderful Temple which overlooks the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
May 20, 2007
Located 65 km southeast of Athens, along scenic Highway 91, is the wonderful temple dedicated to the God of the Seas TEMPLE OF POSEIDON. Built in the 5th century B.C., at the tip of the Attica peninsula, it is surrounded on three sides by the Sea. It is a popular day excursion for tourists from Athens, with the sunset over the Aegean Sea a sought-after spectacle.
What a thrill it was for us on the sailboats, as we passed the temple.
The earliest literary reference to Sounion is in Homer's poem "The Odyssey".
A temple dedicated to Athena has only the foundation remaining.
One of the temples columns has the English poet Lord Byron's name carved in it
Sunday May 20. 2007
The 5th century B.C. TEMPLE OF POSEIDON , perched atop the cliffs above Cape Sounion is 65 km (43 miles) south-east of Athens. Cape Sounion is the southernmost point of Attica. Fifteen of the temples's original 34 columns are still standing.
Try to find the spot on one column where Lord Byron carved his name
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to sunset.
Admission: Adults 4 Euros
Students and Seniors 2 Euros
There is something about the stark majesty of the ruins of the Temple of Posiedon which just beg for a perfect sunset to be viewed through the columns. Unfortunately the custodians no longer allow visitors to access the temple itself (though I do believe if you are lucky and get a cold winter's evening the custodians might not be too bothered).
Whilst the ruins are spendidly photogenic at all times it is at sunset that they become their most resplendent and even on the slightly overcast evening that I visited they are still photographically magnificent.