"Cape Sounio" Top 5 Page for this destination Sounio by mindcrime

Sounio Travel Guide: 79 reviews and 383 photos

Cape Sounio is a popular daytrip excursion from Athens and many tour operators have it on their programs but you can save some euros if you take the suburban bus from Athens city center. Many greeks also drive there to watch the sunset next to the ruins of the famous ancient greek temple of Poseidon. The area is one of the most expensive in Greece with rich people having their upscale summer homes around there.

Sounio is located about 69km southeast from Athens, 50km from Athens airport, 68km from Piraeus, 11km from Lavrio. Most of the times we combine our visit there with a nearby beach, if you drive from Athens through the south coast you will pass by many beaches until you reach Sounio which is at the southern edge of Attica prefecture. Actually most of the times we just visit Sounio area to swim only but when we take friends with us we also visit the temple of Poseidon.

Poet Lord Byron mentions Sounion in his poem Isles of Greece:
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep...

There, swanlike, let me sing and die:
A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine--
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!

The area was inhabited since early 8th century BC, and that archaic period (800-500BC) was the time when the first temple was built. Excavations brought some three kouroi (large statues of male youths) that can be seen today at the National Archeological Museum in Athens.
As you will probably notice during your visit there may be strong winds around, that was the case back in ancient times. Sailing was hard and the Greeks had to propitiate Poseidon, the god of the sea that was feared by all mariners. So the greeks built the temple here dedicated to Poseidon. Mariners were coming to leave gifts, making animal sacrifices etc Homer make many references to Sacred Sounion at his epic poem Odyssey, with numerous greek commanders stopping at Sounio to honor Poseidon.

That first temple was made of tufa and probably destroyed by Persians in 480BC invasion. But Athenians won the battle of Salamis and placed a trireme at Sounio, as a gift to Poseidon (in a maritime country like Greece Poseidon was really high in hierarchy, second only to Zeus!). Some years later (probably in 440BC) the temple was built again over the ruins of the old one and was fortified in 413BC with a wall during the peloponnesian war (431-404BC) against the Spartans. It was the same year that Spartans managed to take over Deceleia (that was also fortified in 415BC) and took control of Attica region by cutting off the food supply of Athenians. Athenians too back Sounio fortress at 229BC and much later in 104BC Sounio was easily seized by the rebel slaves of the nearby Lavrio (Athenians were using the silver mines of Lavrio for coinage etc).

  • Intro Updated Feb 28, 2013
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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Thank you for bringing back memory about this magnificent place! I well remember the sunset over Sounio...

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