Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion is one of the most famous and picturesque places in Attica. The cape is located 69 km southeast of Athens at the southernmost point of Attica peninsula. The Temple of Poseidon, built on a site set back from the sheer cliffs and with its magnificent view of the Aegean Sea and islands, was ideally located for worship of the powerful god of the sea. In ancient times, mariners would see the brilliant white marble columns of the Temple of Poseidon and know they were close to home. 

The temple that we see today was built in 444 BCE and stands on the site of an older temple. An Ionic frieze, made from 13 slabs of Parian marble, is located on the east side of the temple's main approach path. The frieze is very eroded, but is known to have depicted the mythological battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, the Gigantomachia, and the adventures of the hero Theseus who was said in some legends to be the son of Poseidon. The east pediment (of which only a seated female figure is preserved) probably depicted the fight between Poseidon and Athena for the domination of Attica. Local marble, taken from quarries at nearby Agriléza, was used for the temple's 34 slender Doric columns. The remaining 15 columns have been restored. When the temple was built there were special features incorporated which helped it combat its unique location on the water's edge. The columns were cut with only 16 flutings instead of the usual 20, thus reducing the surface area exposed to the elements and subsequently reducing the corrosion caused by the constant sea spray.

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Cape Sounion & the AegeanCape Sounion, surrounded by the Aegean Sea, from the northwest.

Cape SounionThe Temple of Poseidon is located on a flat summit at the highest part of Cape Sounion's promontory.

Temple of Poseidon & PropylaeaThe Temple of Poseidon and the Propylaea of the sanctuary from the north.
Temple of Poseidon from the NEThe Temple of Poseidon from the northeast. Temple of Poseidon from the SEThe Temple of Poseidon from the southeast. Temple of Poseidon from the southThe Temple of Poseidon from the south.
Graffiti on the south colonnadeGraffiti on the south colonnade. When Lord Byron carved his name on one of the columns in 1810, he set a dangerous precedent of vandalism at the temple which is now covered with scrawling signatures. Temple of Poseidon from the SWThe Temple of Poseidon from the southwest. Temple of Poseidon from the westThe Temple of Poseidon from the west.
Temple of Poseidon from the NWThe remains of the Propylaea and column fragments in the foreground with the Temple of Poseidon in the background (from the northwest). West coast of Cape SounionThe west coast of Cape Sounion. East coast of Cape SounionThe small bays and inlets on the east coast of Cape Sounion. A few yards away, the land drops 60 meters (200 ft) to the sea below.

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