One of the most famous ancient temple in Greece because of its picturesque position, on the cliff of Cape Sounio.
How to Get There
The buses to Sounion are operated by the KTEL Attikis and depart from the Aigyptou Square, at the corner of Ioulianou and Mavromateon Streets, three-minute walk either from the Victoria station of the Pireas-Kifissia Metro line, or from the National Archaeological Museum. The bus passes also near Syntagma Square; the stop is on Philellinon Street, about in front of the Russian Orthodox Church (but the opposit side of the street). The one-way ticket costs €4.60 (in August 2005), that you pay in the bus. As the bus terminates in front of the Sounio archaeological site, you cannot miss your destination. The entrance fee is €4 (Summer 2009), with reduction for over 65 and non-EU students, free for under 18 and EU-students, and free entrance on Sundays between 1 November to 31 March (this information is based on the data collected in August 2005).
You can get more up-to-date info from KTEL Attikis website, but currently it is only in Greek.
The site was the acropolis of ancient Sounion. It is not clear where was the main settlement, although traces of some houses were found inside the fortification wall of the acropolis. The ancient Sounion was known to be quite rich and must have had the silver mine of Laurion and the marble quarry of Aglireza inside its territory.
Already in the seventh century BCE there are signs of religious activity at this site, and in the early sixth century some huge kouroi statues were dedicated. One of these is now exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
The attribution of the temple to Poseidon is proved by an inscription found at site. The temple is supposed to be built around 444 BCE. Because of some similarities to the Hephaisteion (Theseion) in the Athenian Agora, the architect is supposed to be the same person. The construction was preceded by another phase started around 490 BCE, but it must have been interrupted. The poros stone foundation of the temple belongs to this preceding phase.
The temple is Doric peristyle, and stylobate (the top of the base structure on which the columns stand) is 31.1 by 13.4 metres. Originally there were 34 columns, of which 15 are still standing. The flutes of column are 16, fewer than usual 20.
The sculptures found in and around Sounio are not in exhibited in Sounio. Some of the temple frieze are housed in the Lavrio Museum, and a colossal kouros from the sanctuary is exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Near the site there is also a sanctuary of Athena (free entrance).
Near the Sounio site, there is one restaurant-cafe-souvenir shop. A bit further there is another shop selling souvenirs and drinks, but it was closed when we visited there in August. The price of the restaurant-cafeteria is a bit high (frappé: €3.80, coca cola: €2.80, ravani cake: €3.80 in 2005), but considering it has a view of the sea and of the temple (as in the photo), the service is decent, and the toilet is clean, the price is not unjustified. If you want to buy guidebooks of Sounio, you’d better buy at the ticket office of the site, because the shop here charges more for the same books.
- Robin Barber, Greece (Blue Guide), London- N.Y. 2001 (Revised reprint of the 6th edition of 1995), p. 143.
- Christopher Mee and Antony Spawfort, Greece: An Oxford Archaeological Guide Oxford/ Oxford University Press 2001, 96-100.
- Robin Barber, City Guide: Athens, London/ A&C Black 2002, pp. 252-56.
INDEX of SOUNIO SECTION