Cape Sounion and the temple of Poseidon
I’m taking a short afternoon day trip outside of Athens to visit the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion located on the southern tip of Athens, past the main port of Piraeus. Organized by local operator Key Tours, the afternoon to evening tour is a very pleasant visit through the coastal areas and beaches accessible to Athens and a tour of this historic temple and fortress that guarded the city in ancient times. After quickly picking up all the guests, we head through the main streets of Athens towards the main port, Piraeus. The guide gives us just the right amount of historical and current tidbits of trivia and points of interest along the way which add to the normally bland drive through the business centers and main thoroughfares away from the historic district. Things liven up when we exit the port areas into the beach and coastal communities with the main road hugging the entire coastal areas and commanding magnificent views to the region and coastal terrain.
I’m surprised that there is a nice tram system that is accessible to many of these communities and connects through the metro for direct access to the central district and making a beach day easy for many Athenians to get to through public transportation. The whole area is completely revitalized after the last Olympics making this area completely accessible without having to drive to these areas.
Further along the coastline, it becomes more rural with only a few interspersed villages and the views of the rugged coastlines become even more spectacular. It doesn’t seem like you even need to catch any of the ferries to some of the islands when these coastal communities are just as interesting and filled with amazing seafood venues to enjoy. Off in the distance, the guide points out the temple on a high bluff overlooking the entire coastal plain.
In no time, we are approaching the temple of Poseidon which sits prominently on this bluff at the highest point along the southern tip of the mainland. It is quite impressive from the bottom until I realized that we have to climb up to the top which is actually not that big a deal. In ancient times, this fortress temple was used primarily to protect the ancient capital of Athens from attack from various enemies and other Greek city states. The temple of Poseidon was later built around 444-440 BC to pay homage to the god of the sea, a very important god to mariners like the Athenians who sailed throughout the Mediterranean seas. This temple built at Cape Sounion was the right location to pay tribute to this deity along with being strategic for defending the city of Athens from attack. On the way up the hill, the guide explains some of the history and development of the temple and the everyday activities of the priests living on the grounds.
We finally make it to the base of the temple and it is extremely windy, almost uncomfortable with the wind blowing every direction and making it difficult to hear the guide. I break off for the moment to walk along the perimeter and photograph views of the coastline and play with silhouettes of the temple against the Aegian sea, with the slowly sinking sun coming down the horizon. I’m hopeful that we can catch some nice sunset views of the temple, but with the wind blowing so strong and the time still an hour from sunset, it didn’t seem likely. So I continued walking along a pathway that skirted the perimeter of the landmark with commanding views of the harbor and coastline back to the coastal communities and the port of Piraeus.
Everyone gathers back to the bus and we head promptly back to the city. Along the way, the sun is setting this huge orange globe and someone asks the guide if it was possible to stop to take pictures and the driver tries to find a viewpoint which ends up being impossible so we get these stunning sunset views driving along the coastline which unfortunately I was not able to capture well on the bus but you’ll have to believe me when I tell you they were just spectacular with the largest and reddest sunset I’ve ever seen in my life.
Sunset along the coastal drive back to Athens
Summary of tour to Cape Sounion
The whole tour is very well-managed from pick up to drop off and it was a nice drive along the coastal road to the historic temple grounds and a beautiful day for a drive. The guided tour was just right and our guide gave some wonderful observations about daily life and other interesting details about Athenian lifestyle, culture and the current economic conditions to give a nice look into daily life for local Athenians. I think for a nice afternoon tour outside of Athens, this is just the right type of tour to take to visit the historic temple of Poseidon. To find out more about this tour or any of the other tours run by Key Tours, you can visit their website here.
Thank you Key Tours for hosting me on this visit, all opinions and thoughts are my own and I would highly recommend taking their tour of this landmark.