When you visit Athens , not only you can explore the capital of Greece, but at the same time you can also make several one-day excursions to nearby coastal villages, beaches and archaeological sites within the prefecture of Attica. One of the trips we believe is really worth it to add to your “list”, is to visit the “temple of Poseidon” in Sounion, at about 60 km from centre Athens. You can combine it with a swim in the clear waters of the Aegean sea or a nice dinner/lunch in one of the fish taverns nearby.
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Sounio is the southernmost cape of Attica and also well known for its beautiful sunsets. The area is rocky. On top of a 60 meter cliff, rising vertically from the sea, stands one of the most important sanctuaries in the region: the temple of Poseidon. In 1974, the area became a National Park because of its environmental value. The terrestrial part of the region is a good example of a Mediterranean landscape.
The Temple of Poseidon
Sounio is famous for its sunset and for its characteristic ancient Greek temple that rises on the rock. The temple is dedicated to the Greek God Poseidon, the brother of Zeus, and the God of the sea. The temple was built twice. The first temple was demolished by the Persians in the early 5th century BC. In 440 BC Pericles ordered to rebuilt it and it became one of the most important temples of classical Athens.
The temple is rectangular, with a colonnade on all four sides, and had a frieze picturing the tale of Theseus and the Battle of Centaurs. The 16 columns, 15 of which are still standing today, are fewer in number compared with other temples dating from the same period.
Take a look at the video below to get a better idea of the temple.
As with many other Greek temples and sanctuaries, historical facts about the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion are mixed with mythology.
According to the legend, Sounion is thought to be the place where Athenian King Aegeus killed himself by jumping off the rock. Aegeus, who came to Sounion to look out for the return of his son Theseus from Crete, saw the black sails on the ship and mistakenly thought Theseus had been killed by the Minotaur, (a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man.) Actually, Theseus was victorious but had forgotten to replace the black sails on his ship with white ones upon returning, which ultimately led to his father’s death. Since then, Aegeus’ name was given to the Aegean Sea.
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