Saturday, 22 September 2018

Greece: Cape Sounion

The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion is the southernmost tip of the Attic peninsular, about 70 km south east of Athens. The drive there from Athens closely follows the coastline. We went there to see the Temple of Poseidon, which was wonderful, but we also found some interesting surprises. In the picture above you can see the remains of the temple with the island of Patroclus in the background. (This is not a reference to Achillles's Patroclus, but rather to an admiral in Ptolemy's navy.)

We walked up from the car park towards the temple to quickly gain the clearest view of what remains. The remains of the portico of the temple is on the left. It was constructed in 444–440 BC in the Doric style on the site of an early temple of the so-called Archaic period and dedicated to Poseidon, the god of the sea and protector of mariners. The very helpful Wikipedia entry says that the temple would have resembled that of Hephaestus in Athens which was built at about the same time. We admired the Temple of Hephaestus in our walk around Central Athens.

An unexpected feature as we continued our exploration was a small flock of grouse.

This is the view looking directly at the remains of the portico. The square column on the right has a lot of graffiti from past tourists ...

... of which perhaps the most notable was Lord Byron (just above the line separating the two stone block) who visited Sounion in 1810-11

We explored the surrounding area and gained a nice view over the nearby bay, where we learned from a very helpful information board that there would once have been been a port, shipyards and a naval base.

Further information boards revealed that the site was fortified in 413 BC (during the Peloponnesian War with Sparta) and was home to a garrison over a long period. This is the main street along which the garrison buildings were arranged.

Nearby there was a temple to Athena built in 470 BC. This temple was demolished in the 1st century AD, and parts of its columns were taken to Athens to be used in the South-East temple of the Agora in Athens.

I am always on the look out for butterflies, but it was perhaps too windy and I had just a couple of glimpses. I did snap a fine red dragonfly however.

Conditions: sunny, hot, windy.

Rating: four and a half stars. A great outing.

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