January 15 - 21, 2017: Issue 296


Cape Sounion seen from across the Bay.


by George Repin

Cape Sounion, a promontory at the southern-most tip of the Attica Peninsula in Greece, about 69 Kilometres to the south-southeast of Athens, is the site of the ruins of the Temple of Poseiden, the god of the sea in classical mythology.  In a maritime nation such as Greece Poseiden, as the god of the sea, occupied a high position in the divine hierarchy, considered second only to Zeus.

The temple is on the headland at a height of 60 metres above the water surrounded on three sides by sea, occupying a strategic position, commanding the entrance to the Saronic and South Euboea gulfs and protecting the whole of southern Attica.

Excavations at the beginning of the 20th Century revealed that there had been an organised sanctuary on the site in the 10th to 7th Centuries BCE. There is a reference to Sounion in Homer’s poem the Odyssey, which is believed to have been written in the 8th Century BCE.

The original temple on the site, built of tufa, was destroyed in 480 BCE by Persian troops when Xerxes I invaded Greece.  Building of a marble Doric peripteral temple, some of whose columns stand today, commenced in 440 BCE at the time of the Athenian statesman, Pericles.

Statue of Pericles in Athens.

Temple of Poseidon - South side.

Temple of Poseidon - West side.

Temple of Poseidon - West side.

In common with other Greek temples the building was rectangular, with a colonnade on all four sides. The columns are of the Doric style. Of the original 34 columns 15 still stand today. They were made of locally quarried white marble.  They are 6.10 m (20 ft) high, with a diameter of 1 m (3.1 ft) at the base and 79 cms (31 inches) at the top.  The columns were cut with only 16 flutings (instead of the usual 20) – intended to reduce surface area exposed to erosion.

Detail of Doric columns.

Detail of column base.

The name Byron is carved into the base of one of the columns, possibly dating from the famous Romantic poet’s first visit to Greece, although Byron is known to have visited Sounion on at least two occasions when living in Athens in 1810-1811.

Sounion is an upmarket summer home location for Athenians and is one of the most expensive areas in Greece.  There are excellent views of the Cape and the ruins of the Temple of Poseiden from several resort hotels on the waterfront of the Bay.                   

Artist sitting on the North side - sketching the Temple.

Photographs by George Repin in 2001 and 2006.

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino  Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant  Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre   Around Angkor - 1963   Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross  The Oceaographic  Museum  in Monaco  The Island of Elba  Russian Fairy Tale Plates  Meteora  Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska  Cloisonné  Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories  Not A Chagall!  Did You Listen? Did You Ask?  Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand  Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells  Murano  University of Padua  Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi   Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park   Aphrodisias   The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children  Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre   Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island    ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997  Hotere Garden Oputae  Children of the Trobriand Islands  Page Park Market - Rabaul  Rabual   Kotor, Montenegro   Galleries of Photographs I   Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II   The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor   Delphi   Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia   Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  Wieliczka Salt Mine  A Walk on Santorini  Indonesian Snapshots Ephesus - The Library of Celsus  Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest  Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958  A Miscellany of Flower Images Gardens Bath St. David's In Wales   Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist  Kraków  Lilianfels  Collonges-La-Rouge  Gingerbread Houses