SIGHTSEEING IN ATHENS: CAPE SOUNIO
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep.
Lord Byron (1788–1823)
Cape Sounion is located 70 kilometers southeast of Athens, at the tip of Attica . Cape Sounion is mainly noted for the ruins of an ancient Greek Temple of Poseidon, the venerable god of the sea. What is left of the temple is perched on the rock overlooking the waves, as it is surrounded by the sea on three sides.
Greek Mythology states that Cape Sounion is the spot where Aegeus, king of Athens, leapt to his death off the rocky cliff, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea. The story goes that Aegeus, anxiously looking out from Sounion, despaired when he saw a black sail on his son Theseus's ship, returning from Crete. The black sail was interpreted as if his son was dead.
In a maritime country such as Greece, the god of the sea occupied a high position in the divine hierarchy. Poseidon was considered second only to Zeus. His wrath, often manifested in the form of storms, was greatly feared by sailors.
The temple was constructed in 444–440 BC, over the ruins of a temple dating from the Archaic Period. It is perched above the sea at a height of almost 60 metres (200 ft). The design of the temple is a typical hexastyle, meaning that it had a front portico with six columns. Only some columns of the Doric Order forming the temple stand to this day.
Presently, Sounion is located 9 km from the city of Lavrion, where one finds the Olympic Marina, which connects the mainland to several Cycladic islands and offers a wide range of private motor boats and yachts for hire to cruise. Furthermore, it is close to the mineral museum and to the Theatre of Thorikos – the oldest ancient theatre in the country.
Tip: You should view Cape Sounion at sunset – an unforgettable experience! Cape Sounion’s Temple of Poseidon coordinates for navigation: 37.650407°N 24.024776°E
Photography: Les Anagnou