If you had to build a Temple in honor of the God of Sea, Poseidon, there could be no better location than Cape Sounio, a rock face jutting out and plunging 300ft into the Aegean Sea, with a view that which stretches all the way to the horizon interrupted by numerous Greek islands towards the east and the Peloponnese peninsula to the west. And there is no better time to visit this Temple than at sunset, a time and place that prompted Lord Byron to pen the following lines, and also to carve his name on the 2,000 year old stone pillars like a careless tourist.
‘Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep / Where nothing save the waves and I / May hear our mutual murmurs sweep.’
Sounion (also Sounio, Sunium) is a sleepy, idyllic town just about an hour south of Athens. There isn’t much to do here except bathe in the plentiful sunshine and dip into the shallow warm waters of the Aegean, which is why property prices are the highest here in all of Attica. The Temple was built in the 5th century BC (about when the Parthenon was built) by the same architect that built the Temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora of Athens.
It is one of the most stunning displays of Doric architecture one can see today, and coupled with the spectacular sunsets over the Aegean, is a sight not to be missed in Greece. Which is why it takes more than 45 minutes of constant nudging and whistle-based reminders to get the crowds off the grounds after closing – which at sunset, is a little too early to kick people out. Soaking in every uninvited extra minute of this view, we slowly inch our way towards the exit.
“It’s the same story every evening”, the guard tells us as I steady my tripod for one last photograph. “If I am not stern, I will get to go home at midnight.”