The Temple of Poseidon holds a commanding position on Cape Sounion, and is most spectacular when the sun sets between the temple’s pillars. It is around 70 kilometres from Athens and a good place to go for an evening out.
Interestingly, the temple is aligned with the Athenian Acropolis (on which the Parthenon stands) and the ancient site at Delphi. The Cape was inhabited in prehistoric times and was of strategic importance to the city state of Athens as it controlled the sea passage to what is now the port of Piraeus and the peninsula of Lavrio where silver was mined. It was silver which mainly contributed to the wealth of Athens in the 5th century BC.
If you go up to the temple, you will have wonderful views of the coast. However, if you drive along the coast road from Athens to Sounio the views are particularly spectacular. At night, though, if you are not familiar with the road, you may prefer to go back to Athens on the road through Lavrio.
I have actually seen dolphins in the water close to the taverna on the beach, although that was early one morning quite a few years ago now. They were playing in the shadow of Poseidon’s temple, which seemed apt to me. Now the creatures you see on the way up to the temple (look to the left as you leave the car park area) are the partridges that live in burrows in the mound. They look plump and tasty, but are a protected species, so don’t be tempted by them.
There are two fish tavernas in the bay that afford excellent views of the temple. In my opinion, the better of the two is the one on the left as you face the sea. It is more or less on the beach and a great place to eat fish and sea food. Try the fresh tsipoura (sea bass/bream) with the house wine and the squid. After your meal you might be offered complimentary masticha liqueur made from masticha from Chios. In my opinion it’s absolutely delicious – and a good digestif.
You don’t actually need a car to get to Sounio, you can go there on public transport. Alternatively go in a taxi if there are three or four people. This mode of transport can be both entertaining and informative as the drivers can usually tell you the history of the place.
If you visit Athens the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio is a must-see place.