The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
There, swan-like, let me sing and die.

Lord Byron: The Isles of Greece

Byron wrote these lines about the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion which he visited during his Grand Tour (carving his name into one of the columns).

The Temple of Poseidon was built in 440 BC, when Athens was led by Pericles. The first temple on the site, dating from the Archaic period, was destroyed by the army of Xerxes during the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. If you need help to imagine what the temple might have looked like, the Temple of Hephaestus on the agora of Athens was built at about the same time, possibly by the same architect, and is in a much better shape.

Cape Sounion is a promontory on the southern tip of the Attica Peninsula, not far from Athens. You can reach it by coach from Athens taking either the coastal route or an inland route passing by the ancient mines of Laurium (whose silver enabled Athens to build its famous fleet). According to legend, Cape Sounion is the spot where King Aegeus threw himself off the rocks, giving his name to the sea in which he died. Cape Sounion is also famous as the location from which to watch the sun set over the Aegean Sea. There is a path leading down from the temple to the bay below and you can finish your visit with a swim in the crystal clear water. (Shame about the ugly hotel.)

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One thought on “The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

  1. Lovely pics and a great post to refresh for your beach party event at BW. Really enjoyed the Byron quote and learning something of the islands, Looks far too warm in Med for my liking although it’s nice to see the psychological warmth of such landscapes/seascapes. I really must learn more about Byron as he was local resident gentry for some of his lifetime. I expect the carving of his name in the stone column was made by someone else at a later time though, although I s’pose he (Lord Byron) might have been a Vandal, they did invade and usurp Britain many centuries before after all 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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