The Temple of Poseidon in Sounio
At the cape of Sounio the Athenians built a sanctuary surrounded by a wall. The sanctuary included temples dedicated to the gods of the city. The main temple was dedicated to Poseidon, the god of the sea. It is a temple of Doric style and is the only temple that has survived to date.

The cape of Sounio was in antiquity the southern border of the city-state of Athens. At the cape of Sounio the Athenians built a sanctuary surrounded by a wall. The sanctuary included temples dedicated to the gods of the city.

The main temple was dedicated to Poseidon, the god of the sea

It is a temple of Doric style and is the only temple that has survived to date. It is located at a height of 73 meters from the sea. The second most important temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the goddess from whom the city took its name. In the open space of the sanctuary were erected statues, tributes of the city or prominent Athenians to the gods. One of them is known as the "Kouros of Sounio" and is on display at the National Archaeological Museum. In ancient times the temples and statues were not all white, they were decorated with colors.

The Persian wars are an important milestone in the history of the Greeks. The Persians attempted two campaigns against the Greeks, gathering an army from every corner of their empire: one in 490 BC. and another ten years later in 480 BC. The Greek state formations - cities - states and kingdoms - allied in order to repel the Persian invader. Both campaigns failed despite the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Persian army. The Greeks united won, because they were fighting for their freedom. Freedom is a fundamental concept for ancient Greek culture. The Persians and their enslaved peoples fought for fear of the Persian king, they did not know what freedom meant. The Athenians and the Spartans starred in the battles of the Persian wars. Victories in the Persian wars stimulated the sense of national pride and self-confidence of the Greeks and gave impetus to civilization.

During the second Persian campaign, the military leadership of the city-state of Athens decided that the Athenians should leave their city and organize their defense elsewhere. Thus, the Persians invaded the deserted city and looted it. They set fire to the holy temples of the Acropolis and Sounio. The Athenians could see from afar the flames from the fire that burned their city rising into the sky. But they were not intimidated, because they knew that the power of their city lay in the power of its navy and above all in the souls of its people. After the victory, the Athenians returned to their city and realized the magnitude of the disaster.

Now, Athens is taking a leading role among the Greeks. In the political life of the city, first Kimon starred and then Pericles. Pericles promotes democratic institutions. With its reforms, citizens are increasingly involved in the administration of their city. The power of the aristocrats is limited. The years that Pericles starred in the political life of Athens, from 461 to 429 BC, are known as "the golden age of Pericles" - "century" that actually lasts only thirty years! On the initiative of Pericles, the holy temples of the Acropolis and Sounio are rebuilt. The temples we see today on the Acropolis and the temple of Poseidon in Sounio were erected as part of the building program of Pericles. The temple of Poseidon we see today was completed about forty years after the second Persian invasion, ie around 440 BC.

The location of Sounio is related to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. The myth is placed chronologically one thousand years before the temple of Poseidon was built.

Around 1,450 BC. Athens was a kingdom, like all other kingdoms of the time. On the hill of the Acropolis in the place of the Parthenon there was a palace, where the king of the Aegean lived with his family. Athens at that time, in addition to a regular tax, was obliged to pay a blood tax in the sea empress of Crete. Every nine years seven young men and seven young women were drawn and sent to Crete to be fed to the Minotaur, a formidable monster that had the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man and lived in the Labyrinth. (Archaeologists believe that the Labyrinth is identical with the warehouses located in the basement of the palace. It is a complex system of corridors and rooms.

Theseus, the son of the Aegean, offered to join the group of young people who would go to Crete and managed to kill the Minotaur, freeing Athens from the tyranny of Minos. Theseus managed to locate and kill the Minotaur. But how did he find the way out of the Labyrinth? Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, who had fallen in love with Theseus, gave him a skein of thread. She advised him to tie the end of the thread at the entrance and unroll it as he walked along the corridors of the Labyrinth. Thus, following the course of the thread, Theseus was able to find the way out.

When Theseus left Crete, to return to Athens, he took Ariadne with him. They were two young people in love. Theseus, however, during his return journey changed his mind and left Ariadne on Naxos, an Aegean island. He left her because he was thinking of another girl he was in love with in Athens. Dionysus, the god of wine and theater, found Ariadne in Naxos, fell in love with her and married her.

The ship that had transported Theseus and the other young people to Crete had black sails due to their tragic destination. The king of the Aegean had asked his son, if he managed to kill the Minotaur and return alive from Crete, to change the black sails of the ship with white ones. Theseus forgot it. His father, facing the black sails, committed suicide by falling into the sea from a cliff in Sounio, where he sat all day looking to the horizon and hoping that his son would return alive. The sea into which the Aegean fell was named the Aegean Sea.

To improve your experience, our website uses cookies.

Cookie settings I agree
Functional Cookies
Performance Cookies
Targeting Cookies
Functional Cookies are placed when you log in to our website. By selecting "Accept all", Performance & Targeting Cookies are also placed. Selecting "Save Options" only Functionality Cookies are retained, or any other category cookies you have selected.
Full information can be found at Cookies Policy.