Cape Sounion – A Sanctuary to the Sea?

During a visit to Athens, you might visit the Archaeological Museum. Quite easily, you will find a statue of Poseidon inside. However, outside the museum walls, there are countless opportunities to imagine and feel the ancient cultures, and enjoy it at the same time. Today I am talking about the Cape Sounion, the Southernmost point of the Attiki Peninsula in Greece.

On the way from central Athens to the Cape Sounion, there are literally hundreds of beaches, hotels, and other facilities. Depends on where in Athens is your departing point, the trip to Sounion is between 50 and 70 kilometres long. Some people will start driving there, and stop for a bit before, looking for a brief refresh in the sea. Others will stop at some random taverna on the way. But it is all great, as we are talking about a slow travel style.

Olive tree is an authentic decoration of Greek landscapes. On the top of this high cliff it was very windy, which is so comfortable when the temperature is around 33 degrees.

Local travel

The trip I am presenting is an idea for people who stay in Greece for some extended time, with the goal to appreciate every place they visit. So this trip is a part of the concept of traveling locally, to places that are not “must-visit” and too crowded.

It definitely feels different this year, when there is much less international travel happening. While we were sitting at a terrace with an amazing view, drinking ice coffee, my partner noticed that it was rare to hear a language other than Greek on that terrace.

Meanwhile, as bright sunshine hits to the top of the cape almost vertically, only a handful of people walk around the archaeological site. The Cape Sounion is home to the ancient Temple of Poseidon, along with a settlement, a small town with a port. The place would usually be more lively in the early August, but nowhere near Acropolis, Mycenae and other famous heritage places in Greece.

See also: Uncovering Parthenon

The Cape Sounion in the ancient times

The earliest evidence about a settlement on this place is in the Homer’s Odyssey and several myths refer to this place. The ruins of ancient houses as well as the path of the main street are still easily visible on the site. There is also a small port on the bottom of the town. Olive tress and sea view make the visit to this place so enjoyable, that my imagination tells me that ancient people had some good taste in their choices where to live (laugh).

Cape Sounion - Poseidon Temple
You look at this…
Cape Sounion
…and then you basically just turn your head to see this.

The Temple of Poseidon is easily visible from some distance on the road. Standing on the very top of the cape highly above the sea, it still dominates the area.

There was also a Temple of Athena, the goddess who won the battle against Poseidon for the city of Athens and consequently gave her name to the city. However, that temple was removed in the ancient times already, giving its stones to other buildings. There is a also fortress from the times of Peloponnesian war, as the place remained important throughout the centuries. The Temple of Poseidon fell into disrepair after Christianity prevailed over the ancient Hellenic religion.

Beach time!

The hot August day deserves some swim, and it is perfectly easy to make in the area around Cape Sounion. After the visit to the site, we walked down to the main street. After that we noticed a nice bay just on our right side, with a likely nice beach. Although the way seemed a bit wild, our decision to give it a try paid off.

A Sanctuary to the Sea?

This picture is a bit misleading from a swimmer point of view, because it just shows some rocks. However, it is a typical Greek landscape in which you can easily imagine stories about Ancient Greek gods. After all, we want to get a full package of travel experience here, right?

The beach itself is on the picture below. Being here is a perfect final part of a daily heritage discovery. The walk through the archeological site can be tiring under the Greek August sun, so it is important to protect yourselves.

Further, think sustainably. Pick up all your belongings and put all the waste in the appropriate bin. Don’t leave anything on beaches or in the archaeological area. Don’t take anything from there as a “souvenir”. Instead, buy souvenirs from local makers. It is important to make as little impact as possible on trips.

To sum up, a meaningful trip to Cape Sounion would mean that you are taking a day for visiting the place and the surrounding area. Spending the morning on Acropolis and then rushing to Cape Sounion to see the sunset, is not a king of travel I recommend.

Art of Discovery

This article is a sample of something I called Art of Discovery. It is a part of my idea about sustainable travel, in which the travel goes slowly with many immersive moments. Please, share with me your ideas about sustainable travel by completing my questionnaire during this summer.


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