Poseidon Temple at Cape Sounion near Athens, Greece; Shutterstock ID 101985256; your: Barbara Di Castro; gl: 65050; netsuite: digital; full: poi
ancient, antique, archaeology, architecture, art, athens, attica, attraction, blue, cape, civilization, classic, classical, colorful, columns, culture, doric, europe, famous, greece, greek, historic, historical, history, landmark, landscape, marble, mediterranean, monument, mythological, mythology, nature, peninsula, pillar, poseidon, rocks, ruins, sea, sightseeing, sky, sounio, sounion, stone, summer, sunset, temple, tourism, touristic, travel

Shutterstock / Anastasios71

Temple of Poseidon

Top choice in Around Athens

The Ancient Greeks knew how to choose a site for a temple. At Cape Sounion, 70km south of Athens, the Temple of Poseidon stands on a craggy spur that plunges 65m to the sea. Built in 444 BC – same year as the Parthenon – of marble from nearby Agrilesa, it is a vision of gleaming white columns. Sailors in ancient times knew they were nearly home when they saw the first glimpse of white; views from the temple are equally impressive.

On a clear day you can see Kea, Kythnos and Serifos to the southeast, and Aegina and the Peloponnese to the west.

It is thought that the temple was built by Iktinos, the architect of the Temple of Hephaistos in Athens' Ancient Agora. Sixteen of the slender Doric columns remain. The site also contains scant remains of a propylaeum, a fortified tower and, on a lower hill to the northeast, a 6th-century temple to Athena.

As with all major sites, it's best to visit first thing in the morning, or head there for sunset to enact Byron's lines from Don Juan: 'Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep/Where nothing save the waves and I/May hear our mutual murmurs sweep.'

Byron was so impressed by Sounion that he carved his name on one of the columns (sadly, many other not-so-famous travellers followed suit).

There is a decent cafe-restaurant at the site, and from the parking lot at the Athena temple, a steep path leads down to a small beach. If you want more room or variety, you'll need a car, or a short bus ride, to reach the nearby bigger beaches and tavernas. There is a pretty, if busy, beach near the site to the west, plus some nice wilder areas along the west-coast road towards Sounio town.

The site is a common package day-trip from Athens; this is the easiest way to visit. KTEL also runs frequent buses from the Mavromateon Terminal in Athens; the buses also stop near Syntagma. The ride along the coast road takes about two hours.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Around Athens attractions

1. Mineralogical Museum


If you happen to be in town during the museum's limited opening hours, peek in to see fabulous crystals and metals mined from the area, plus learn a bit…

2. Archaeological Museum

4.78 MILES

Lavrio's small archaeological museum holds finds from the area, mostly stone carvings. Some date to 5000 BC. Entrance and parking is on the small branch…

3. Archaeological Museum of Kea

17.23 MILES

The most intriguing artefacts displayed at this well-presented museum were ancient even before Kea's four archaic city-states were formed. The 13…

4. Ancient Lion of Kea

17.58 MILES

The enigmatic 8m-long Kea Lion, chiselled from schist sometime between the 9th and 6th century BC, lies along the ridge beyond the last of Ioulida’s…

5. Karthaia

17.8 MILES

From the 8th century BC until the 7th century AD, this remote twin cove was the site of the ancient city of Karthaia, one of Kea's four historic city…

6. Sanctuary of Artemis

18.94 MILES

This partially restored temple to the goddess of the hunt dates from approximately 420 BC, with some earlier remains. Most remarkable is an ancient stone…

7. Kastrianis Monastery

20.26 MILES

From Otzias, a spectacular coastal road runs for 6.5km to this clifftop, 18th-century monastery, offering extraordinary views to the surrounding islands…

8. Vorres Museum

23.04 MILES

This hodgepodge of a museum is set on a rambling 32-hectare estate, once the home of Ion Vorres. Vorres migrated to Canada as a young man, but built his…