Captivating Cape Sounion
This was a scenic drive from Athens
, just 69km away from the capital. There were kilometres and kilometres of gleaming Aegean Sea
, swimmers, mountains, and villas. In mythology, it is the place where Aegeus, the king of Athens jumped to his death in despair, believing his son Theseus had died in Crete
. In a cruel twist of fate, Theseus in fact was not dead, he had just forgotten the deal made with his father prior to his quest to Crete. His ship left with black sails and if he was successful and was returning alive, the ship’s sails would be changed to white. In his excitement in defeating the Minotaur in Crete, Theseus had forgot to change the sails, with the consequence being that as his father waited on the cliff to see his ship return, he saw the ship returning with black sails. The sea is named the Aegean Sea after king Aegeus.
High on the cliff today stand the ruins of the ancient temple of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. The temple of Poseidon was built between 444-440 BCE. It stands at about 60 metres above sea level and like other temples has a rectangular shape. There were 34 columns originally and there are 15 of these still standing today. The columns remaining are surprisingly well preserved considering the wind up on the headland and daily exposure to the elements. Flanked on three sides by the sea, it is easy to see why this spot was an excellent vantage point for spotting incoming ships. The peninsula juts right out into the sea – it is the last point of land a sailor can see on leaving and the first point of land visible on returning.
There’s even some more modern day scribble (possibly around 1810-11) that is said to belong to Lord Byron himself, who carved his name on the base of one of the columns. It isn’t verified that it was done by Lord Byron himself but his carved name is visible on the marble.
I stand on the headland, mesmerised. The combination of the sea, the wind, the sun and the abundance of not just history but mythology at this location make it a magical spot to just stand and absorb it all. The columns themselves are mesmerising at any angle. On the other side, opposite the entrance I can see beautiful winding pathways up the nearby mountain. And those clear blue waters of the Aegean, so bright in colour that you really have to see it to believe it.
is a place I am glad I visited. If you enjoy good views, archaeology, history, mythology or just nature, this is a lovely spot with all of the above!
article by Tia Mitsis
see original article here