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Temple of Poseidon, Greece

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Temple of Poseidon

The ancient Greeks couldn't have picked a better location to erect a monument to honor Poseidon, the god of the seas in Greek mythology. They erected the grand Temple of Poseidon high atop an acropolis at Cape Sounion where there was, for the statue of Poseidon housed within, a great view of the Saronic Gulf and the mighty Aegean Sea. Not impressed were the Persians who invaded Greece in the 5th century BC; they knocked the whole thing down. The destroyed temple was built of limestone but as soon as they got the chance the Greeks rebuilt it using marble. Visitors today can still see the limestone foundation of the temple while the walls and columns that remain are from the marble incarnation.

Temple of Poseidon

Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon are about 70 kilometers from Athens and tours depart from the Greek capital daily. Generally no stops are made between the two points but the ride is very enjoyable as there are views of the Aegean most of the way. The roadway takes a path that a snake might, hugging and wriggling along the curves of the hilly terrain and occasionally dipping down to the shore to sip some briny water. The ride is also enhanced by a few stories; you might hear the tale of why Greece has four seasons which has to do with Persephone, the daughter of Demeter (goddess of the harvest) who was kidnapped by that meanie Hades (I think you know what he was god of.) The story is told in conjunction with an explanation of the seaside flora and whatever state it might be in during your visit. The area is also a favorite place for Athenian holidaymakers and there are dozens of beaches along the way where swimmers and sunbathers frolic and party.

Looking out on the Aegean Sea from the Temple of Poseidon

Looking out on the Aegean Sea from the Temple of Poseidon

Once the tour arrives at the Temple of Poseidon tour guides explain a couple of things and then turn their charges loose. It is of course uphill to the temple itself but not too long of a walk, and there are wide and well-maintained steps most of the way. The area directly adjacent to the temple is dirt, pebbles and some larger rocks, none of which are difficult to navigate. The temple is fenced off but you can get close enough to get good pictures and the views of the sea are unimpeded.

The only piece of the Temple of Poseidon that you can touch
The only piece of the Temple of Poseidon that you can touch

Graffiti at the Temple of Poseidon
Graffiti at the Temple of Poseidon

There is graffiti on some of the marble, not recent but from long ago. It is not in a place where it is easy to discern but English poet Lord Byron etched his name in the marble, at an unknown date thought to be about 1810. Other "signatures" are closer to the viewing point and easier to read. Not to be missed is a small segment of marble column, set away from the temple. It also is fenced off but is positioned very close to the fence so that visitors can touch it if they desire. After getting their fill of the temple visitors can patronize a cafe, order adult beverages and soft drinks, grab some ice cream and browse a gift shop. The Temple of Poseidon honored the fact that Poseidon was the god of the seas but he had lots of other godly duties too, also being the god of storms, earthquakes and ... horses.

Temple of Poseidon

Research and book a tour to the Temple of Poseidon and other area attractions here.

For information on things to explore throughout Greece go here.

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