One of the most famous day trips from Athens is the Temple of Poseidon, a beautiful ruin at the southernmost end of the Attica Peninsula, on the cape called Sounion. We’d been waiting for the right day to visit, and when we woke up and saw the sunny warm weather we knew it was the right time to go. After a quick lunch of tasty Greek coffee and pastries we took the bus to Sounion.
It was a bus ride of only one or two hours. I don’t remember exactly anymore since I’m always falling asleep during any ride. I woke as the bus reached the coastal road, to enjoy the view of the beautiful coast line against the deep blue Aegean Sea. On the other side, the view was predominated by dusty hills covered by dry little shrubs. It’s no wonder that Athens had been suffering from such severe brush fires. These windswept hills only needed a spark to go up in flames. And indeed in some locations we saw patches scorched by flames.
Then we finally saw it, the reason we came here. Still far from us, standing beautifully on the hill overlooking the Aegean Sea, were the ruins of an ancient Greek temple, the Temple of Poseidon. This is the most beautiful setting for an ancient Greek temple that I’d seen. The closer we got, the more beautiful it looked.
Ryan and I walked up the hill. The Temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea, was just right in front of our eyes, ancient, mystical, and beautiful. Built around 440 BC, and even though not much is left of the temple anymore, about half of the marble columns are still standing. One full side, and pieces of 2 other sides. Standing there, with the white temple in one side and the blue Aegean Sea in other side, gave me shivers. Poseidon, the god of the sea, was very important for the ancient Greek people. For a maritime people safety on the sea was very important. Poseidon’s wrath could cause sea storms, ship wrecks, and drowning. The ancient Greeks couldn’t find a better location to built a temple in honor to Poseidon. This is a perfect location, on the top of the hill, overlooking the deep blue sea, chosen in hopes that Poseidon would notice the people’s dedication and reward them with safety over the water.
We sat on a column stump, pondering what happened in the past.Â According to the legend said, King Aegeus, the King of Athens, once stood here, the southernmost end of the Attica peninsula, overlooking the water. This was where he waited for his son, Theseus, to come back, from his mission to kill the Minotaur in the labyrinth of King Minos on the Island of Crete. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Minotaur, the strong beast, half human half bull. Theseus slew the Minotaur, and sailed back to the land of Attica. Previously agreed between him and his father, he was supposed to mark his victory by raising a white sail. But he forgot! The father saw a black sail, and thinking his son had lost he jumped to his death. And the sea took his name, Aegeus, the Aegean Sea.
Just before sunset, Ryan and I walked down the hill and took the bus back to Athens. The sun sank lower and lower as the wound along the coast. We watched the temple, taking in the last view before it was gone from our sight. Such an ancient expression of beauty, with only fragments remaining today. We couldn’t help wondering how magnificent it lookedÂ two thousand years ago, brightly painted, surrounded by statues, and bustling with worshippers.