Almost every major archaeological site in Greece comes complete with myths attached, and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion is no exception. Known as the Sacred Cape to the Ancient Greeks, it is today easily visited on a day trip from Athens. Here, we take a brief look at the Greek myths connected with this sanctuary dedicated to the God Poseidon.
The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
One of the most popular day tours from Athens, is a trip out to see the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. This enigmatic temple has stood watching out over the sea for nearly 2500 years, and was an important sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon in Ancient Greece.
Even today you can still feel the magic of the site, especially if you take the fabulous sunset tour. Watching the sun slowly sink into the sea in the presence of this huge temple is a once in a life time experience not to be missed!
Temple of Poseidon: Construction
The temple itself is thought to have been built around 440BC, and designed by the same architect responsible for the Temple of Hephaestus located in the Ancient Agora complex in Athens. That both temples have survived in such wonderful condition throughout the ages is a true testament to their design and construction!
Although the temple is 2500 years old, the Greek mythology associated with the area dates back even further. There are several myths connected with the Temple of Poseidon, which you will hear all about on our Percy Jackson Athens and Temple of Poseidon tour. As a teaser though, we’ll share one with you here!
How the Aegean Sea Was Named
One of the most famous Greek heroes was Theseus. No one was sure who his father was, with some people thinking it was the God Poseidon, and others thinking it was the powerful King of Athens, Aegeus. Brought up by his mother, he ventured into Athens when he was old enough in order to show that he was the King’s son. Once he was recognized, there was much rejoicing by his father, but it was not to last forever.
In the spring of the next year, a ship with a black sail pulled into port, and the King and all the people of Athens despaired. It had come to collect 7 men and 7 women who acted as a yearly sacrifice to the fearsome Minotaur who lived in the Labyrinth of King Minos of Crete. Theseus, as a brave young man, volunteered to be one of the tributes and promised his father that he would slay the Minotaur, which would put an end to the barbaric sacrifices. His father reluctantly agreed, but said that to the Captain of the ship that he must return home with a white sail, so that he would know that he was still alive.
Theseus Defeats The Minotaur
After many adventures, and with the help of the daughter of King Minos, Theseus defeated the Minotaur. Setting sail back to Athens with Ariadne the daughter, they stopped off at the island of Naxos where the God Dionysus appeared to Theseus in a dream. He told the brave young hero he had to abandon the Princess on the island, and continue home without her.
Theseus was very upset at this, but could not go against the wishes of the God. Abandoning Ariadne, he set sail for Athens but was so distraught he forgot to change the sail from a black one to a white one. His father Aegeus who had been waiting for him saw the black sail and feared the worst. Beside himself with grief, he threw himself off the cliffs and into the sea, which was then named after him- The Aegean Sea. Many people say that this happened at Cape Sounion, hence the connection between the two.
Find out more about Greek Mythology Tours
There’s no better way of seeing the archaeological sites of Ancient Greece than on one of our Greek Mythology Tours. All of our tours are designed to both fully explain the archaeological sites as well as linking them to the rich pantheon of Greek Mythology.
If you are fans of the Percy Jackson books. we’ll take it a step further, and point out places where scenes from the book happened, explain where the inspiration for the books came from, and also tell the true version of the myths you may have come to hear about!
Contact us through the website for more details on our Greek Mythology tours, and feel free to explore through our menu system. We provide individual day tours as well as complete packages, ensuring you’ll have the most memorable experience and vacation in Greece!