Temple of Poseidon, Sounion

The ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, built during 444–440 BC, is one of the major monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. A Doric temple, it overlooks the sea at the end of Cape Sounion, at an elevation of almost 60 metres (200 ft).

History

The original, Archaic-period temple of Poseidon on the site, which was built of tufa, was probably destroyed in 480 BC by Persian troops during Xerxes I's invasion of Greece. Although there is no direct evidence for Sounion, Xerxes certainly had the temple of Athena, and everything else on the Acropolis of Athens, razed as punishment for the Athenians' defiance. After they defeated Xerxes in the naval Battle of Salamis, the Athenians placed an entire captured enemy trireme (warship with three banks of oars) at Sounion as a trophy dedicated to Poseidon.

The temple of Poseidon at Sounion was constructed in 444–440 BC. This was during the ascendancy of the Athenian statesman Pericles, who also rebuilt the Parthenon in Athens. It was built on the ruins of a temple dating from the Archaic period. Strabo noted:

"Geraistos [in Euboia] . . . is conveniently situated for those who are sailing across from Asia to Attica, since it comes near to Sounion. It has a sanctuary (hieron) of Poseidon, the most notable of those in that part of the world, and also a noteworthy settlement."

Architecture

The design of the peripteros temple is a typical hexastyle, i.e.,, it had a front portico with six Doric columns. 16 out of the 38 columns are standing today (of which four were re-erected in the 20th century). The temple closely resembles the contemporary and well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus beneath the Acropolis, which may have been designed by the same architect.

The Poseidon building was rectangular, with a colonnade on all four sides encompassing the peristasis. The total number of original columns of the outer colonnade was 34, of which 15 still stand today (with the addition of 1 out of 4 columns of the inner naos). The columns are of the Doric Order. They were made of white marble quarried locally at Laureotic Olympus. They were 6.10 m (20 ft) tall, with a diameter of 1 m (3.1 ft) at the base and 79 cm (31 inches) at the top. At the centre of the temple, beyond the colonnade, there would have been the hall of worship (naos), a windowless rectangular room, similar to the partly intact hall at the Temple of Hephaestus. It would have contained, at one end facing the entrance, the cult image, a colossal, ceiling-height (6 metres (20 ft)) bronze statue of Poseidon.

Archaeology

Early study of the ruins, without excavations, was performed by the Society of Dilettanti in 1797 and by Guillaume-Abel Blouet (Morea expedition 1829). The first excavations were made by Wilhelm Dörpfeld, director of the German Archaeological Institute, in 1884. Systematic excavations by Valerios Stais followed in 1897–1913. As a result of his excavation, Stais uncovered a significant array of pottery, which included terracotta relief and painted plaques, small, terracotta sculptures, seals, scarabs, faience amulets, and metal objects that were likely remnants of jewelry or weapons. Efforts at restoring and preserving the remains of the Poseidon temple began in 1875. The monument's present state is due to the work performed in the 1950s by the Greek Archaeological Service, led by Anastasios Orlandos.

The excavation campaign by Stais in the 1906 season uncovered numerous artifacts and inscriptions, most notably a marble kouros statue known as the Sounion Kouros (ca. 590 BC) and the relief of a "self-crowning athlete" (ca. 460 BC), both now in the Athens National Archaeological Museum. A column from the temple can be seen in the British Museum.

The project Arrangement of the Archaeological Site of Sounion (2011–2013) was co-financed by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and the European Union (ERDF).

See also

  • List of Ancient Greek temples
  • Architecture of Ancient Greece

References

  • A. B. Tataki, Sounion: The Temple of Poseidon, Ekdotike Athenon (1985).
  • Jessica Paga, "Attic Sanctuaries" in: Miles (ed.), A Companion to Greek Architecture (2016), 178–193.
  • "Sounion" in: Stillwell (ed.), The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (2017), p. 854.
Listed in the following categories:
Post a comment
Tips & Hints
Arrange By:
Andreas ???? ????????????????????????
One of the most beautiful places in the world! Perfect view during sunset and places to swim nearby. A lot of commercials have been shot here I.e. Amstel Greece
Mark Mullens
8 September 2016
Sunsets at this ancient location during the summer are sublime. Sadly the administration of this place boots you out as soon as the sun has finished setting.
Spyridon Kagkas
17 April 2017
Truly breathtaking, the Temple is the perfect opportunity to understand how ancient Greeks chose the locations for their temples.
Alexandros Plexidas
21 August 2016
Great spot to end your seaside route and amazing view, especially during sunset. There is a cafeteria just outside the temple. Found the entrance fee a bit expensive (8€ - 4€ for students).
MoSXaR mousâto
7 June 2015
The best sunset of Athens riviera and one of the most magnificent views towards the Aegean sea. Besides the temple, a must see is the cliff, where according to legend, Aegeas fell of the sea and died.
Spiros Apostolopoulos
23 October 2019
A beautiful location with a lot of history. A view on to the Aegean Sea that is majestic. If the weather is good you can see for miles!
Load more comments
foursquare.com
9.4/10
10,514 people have been here
Map
M22F+3R Laurium, Greece Get directions
Tue Noon–8:00 PM
Wed 1:00 PM–8:00 PM
Thu 1:00 PM–9:00 PM
Fri 1:00 PM–8:00 PM
Sat Noon–9:00 PM
Sun 11:00 AM–9:00 PM

Poseidon's Temple on Foursquare

Hotels nearby

See all hotels See all
Cape Sounio Grecotel Exclusive Resort

starting $232

Legrena Beach Villa Sounio (meters from the beach)

starting $0

Aegeon Beach Hotel

starting $174

VILLA MARIA

starting $0

Sounio Villa

starting $549

Veni Villa Sounio

starting $0

Recommended sights nearby

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Sounion

Cape Sounion (Modern Greek: Aκρωτήριο Σούνιο - Akrotírio Soú

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Athens International Airport

Athens International Airport 'Eleftherios Venizelos' (Greek:

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Attica Zoological Park

Attica Zoological Park, is a large, private zoo located in the Athens

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Kaisariani Monastery

The Kaisariani Monastery or, more formally, the Holy Monastery of

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Panathinaiko Stadium

The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium (Greek: Παναθηναϊκό στάδιο), a

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Presidential Mansion, Athens

The Presidential Mansion in Athens, Greece, is the official residence

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Temple of Olympian Zeus (Athens)

The Temple of Olympian Zeus (Greek: Ναός του Ολυμπίου Διός or Naos t

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Zappeion

The Zappeion (Ελληνικά. Ζάππειον Μέγαρο, Шаблон:Transl, Шаблон

Similar tourist attractions

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (Quechua: Machu Pikchu, 'Old Peak', pronounced ]) is a

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is the best known acropolis (Gr. akros, akron,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Old Town, Al-'Ula

The Old Town is an archaeological site near Al-'Ula, Medina Province,

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Persepolis

Persepolis (Шаблон:Audio Old Persian: Pārsa, Modern Persian: تخت جم

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Visited
Roman theatre of Philippopolis

The Roman theatre of Philippopolis (Latin: Theatrum Trimontense;

See all similar places