Cape Sounion Cultural Tour
One of the most spectacular archaeological sites of Greece is the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, south-east of Athens, with a breathtaking view, perfect sunsets and crystal clear waters.
Cape Sounion. So many myths… So many stories…
Gazing the endless Aegean Blue among the ruins of an ancient temple in a place full of myths and stories and watching one of the most spectacular sunsets in Attica is an experience that one who visits Greece should not miss.
Described by Homer in Odyssey as the sacred place where Phrontis, the steersman of Menelaus’ ship was killed by Apollo and buried, Sounion is the place with which Pausanias opens his Guide to Greece.
On the Greek mainland facing the Cyclades Islands and the Aegean Sea, Cape Sounion stands out from the Attic land. What Pausanias really saw was in fact the temple of Poseidon but he was mistaken considering it as the nearby temple of Athena. Not only Homer and Pausanias, but also Herodotus, Thucydites, Xenophon, Strabo, Cicero… have mentioned this amazing place and its temple.
Breathtaking view and sunset
Cape Sounion, located 69 km southeast of Athens at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, can be accessed through a scenic highway which offers a splendid view of the the Saronic Gulf. As you approach, the temple of Poseidon – perched on the headland and surrounded by sheer cliffs and the deep blue Aegean – appears in a dramatic way, like a link that unifies heaven, the earth and the sea.
The view is breathtaking, as on a clear day you can see at least seven islands and it proves that, without wonder, the ancient Greeks knew how to choose a temple’s location as it is the perfect place to worship Poseidon, the god of the sea. And the sunset there, is one worthy for Gods.
A history landmark
In ancient times the temple was a sacred place and served as a landmark for sailors. The site was inhabited in the prehistoric period. By the 7th century BC there were two organized places for worship on the cape; the sanctuary of Poseidon at the southern edge and the sanctuary of Athena about 500 m to the northwest. In the sanctuary of Poseidon there was a temple which was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. Atop the older temple ruins the temple -that still stands on Sounio- was built in 444 BC.
The Temple of Athena was also built at this time, atop her ancient sanctuary on the cape.
The cape was fortified in 412 BC during the Peloponnesian War, and later Shipyards for the sheltering of ships were constructed on the coast. Inside the fortress, excavations have brought to light part of a central street, remains of houses, and water cisterns. On the north wall of the sanctuary there was the Propylon (entrance), made of marble and poros as well as porticoes for the accommodation of the pilgrims.
The Minotaur and Lord Byron
Walking around you may take the same steps Leto took when she left for the island of Delos, where she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis. May be you will sit on the same stone Aegeas, king of Athens, sat, waiting to see the ship of his son Theseus coming back as a winner from Crete, after having killed the Minotaur.
And maybe you will stand on the same rock from where Aegeas jumped into the sea and drowned, believing that his son was dead when he saw the black sails on his son’s ship (the son’s mistake caused his father’s death). Theseus had forgotten the instructions to put up white sails when returning if he had killed Minotaur and was alive. Henceforth, this sea is known as the Aegean Sea.
Or you may even see the word “Baron” carved into the base of one of the columns, engraved by the famous poet Lord Byron during his visit to the Temple in 1810.
A tour to remember
And then it is time to go but you can still complete the enjoyment. As the sun sets, swim in the cool, clean waters and enjoy the moon rising up the sky, lying on the beach. After that, drink and eat mezedes in nearby tavernas or take the way back to Athens thinking of the wonderful moments -a tour to remember- you have lived.
A day tour? A half day tour? An overnight stay? With or without an experienced private guide? Greek Philosophy Tour can offer you whatever you desire. We would be happy to assist with your program which will become a unique and, most importantly, a memorable experience…