The Venerable Ancient Greek Ruins at Sounion: The Temple of Poseidon

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.

Sounion coast of Attica Peninsula overlooking the Aegean Sea

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.

Dry shrubs hill at Sounion, Attica Peninsula

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.

The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion

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.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion Greece

We sat on a column stump, pondering what happened in the past.  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.

Vegetation at Temple of Poseidon, Sounion, and 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 looked  two thousand years ago, brightly painted, surrounded by statues, and bustling with worshippers.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion Greece

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18 Responses to “The Venerable Ancient Greek Ruins at Sounion: The Temple of Poseidon”

  1. Michael Hodson
    12 October 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    I really need to get to Greece soon. Lovely shots.
    Michael Hodson´s last post…Romancing the Stone- The On-Site Movie Review 25 years late

    • Dina
      12 October 2010 at 12:24 pm #

      I agree, and I need to go back there too :D
      Thanks, Mike!

  2. Sabina
    12 October 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Okay, I have got to go to Greece. You guys inspire me. (Actually, I just turned down a house sit there about two weeks ago. It on the Ionian Islands – or something like that, I’m not familiar with Greece – from December to January. I looked into it and decided it would be so cold and remote that I wouldn’t like it. I’d rather be here in the UAE. I think saying no was the right choice, but then I say to myself, a free house for a month in Greece..)

    • Dina
      18 October 2010 at 8:38 am #

      Hi Sabina, yes, please go to Greece :D But maybe you are right, wait for a warmer weather so you can have the beach fun too! So, hope you will find another Greece house sit again!

  3. Nancie
    12 October 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    I was 17 or 18 when I was in Greece. Have always wanted to go back. One of these days I’ll get there again. Your photos are beautiful.
    Nancie´s last post…Through the Sandbox Lens 15 &8212 Female Taiko Drummer in Tokyo

    • Dina
      18 October 2010 at 8:40 am #

      Thanks Nancie! Wow, you were already a traveler even when you were a teenager!

  4. Travelogged
    15 October 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    I’ve been here, too! This was actually our first stop in Greece — we stayed at a little hotel a five-minute walk away. It was the perfect way to relax after a long flight from NYC ( http://www.travelogged.com/travelogged/2009/04/sounio.html ). Also, we got to watch the sunset from the temple, which was really cool.
    Travelogged´s last post…Good News for Country Counters- Curacao and St Maarten Are Now Autonomous Countries

    • Dina
      18 October 2010 at 8:42 am #

      Ah, sunset from the temple! I know it was going to be amazing. We didn’t wait until the sunset unfortunately, maybe because some sort of temporary insanity to miss out a sunset when the sky was clear from that kind of setting. Just checking out your photo, gorgeous sunset photo!!

  5. Erica
    16 October 2010 at 2:54 am #

    Shaun is DYING to go to Greece. He has always been a mythology/history nut and this is by far his favorite subject.
    Erica´s last post…Road Trip to Burning Man- Reno to San Francisco

    • Dina
      18 October 2010 at 8:44 am #

      Haha, he will go even more nuts when you guys finally be there! Where are you guys now? Are you moving toward that direction?

  6. Mary R
    21 October 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    My mom has a picture of me as a child at this temple with a big bandage on my head from where my brother threw a rock at me! I hope I get to make it there one day again!

    Wow, you two have been traveling all over… love these round the world adventures!
    Mary R´s last post…Favorite Travels- Basking in Blue in Tahiti

    • Dina
      26 October 2010 at 12:51 am #

      Omg, I hope you were okay!! I bet the picture must be great though, has a story behind it :) Wow, lucky you to have traveled so far when you were so young!!

  7. Zablon Mukuba
    23 October 2010 at 3:33 am #

    i want to go to greece. these photos that you guys took are awesome

    • Dina
      26 October 2010 at 12:34 am #

      Thanks!! I hope you will get to Greece soon, that place is super awesome!

  8. Matt | YearAroundTheWorld
    24 October 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    What a fantastic location for a ruin like this!
    Matt | YearAroundTheWorld´s last post…VIDEO- Sea Monster Attack!

    • Dina
      26 October 2010 at 12:34 am #

      Yeah, it’s gorgeous isn’t it :)

  9. Maria Pavel
    31 January 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Hey Dina,

    The environment is absolutly great, you know very well how much I love Greece. I have a crush on Greece, all these great old buildings, ruines, clean crystal water, and all that great inforatioms about mithology… Great pictures and an excellent high quality article. Thank you very much for sharing this!

    Best regards,

    Maria

    • Dina
      1 February 2011 at 2:51 pm #

      Thank you, Maria! Like you, I love Greece for those reasons too. Also for the food :)

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