Temple of Poseidon : An Athenian Temple Dedicated To The God Of Sea
Located at Cape Sounion, the Temple of Poseidon is one of the most important monuments from the Golden Age of Athens. It is perched on the edge of a cliff, located 70 meters above the sea.
Built in the 5th century BC, the temple is in the typical Greek hexastyle - featuring six doric columns on the front portico. 16 out of the original 38 columns are still standing today, and they were 20 feet tall.
Location: Cape Sounion, Greece
Period Of Origin: 5th Century BC
Temple Architecture Type: Doric architecture
Elevation: 200 feet
No Of Columns: 38 (originally), 16 (currently)
Name Of The Architect: Ictinus (unconfirmed)
First Excavation By: Wilhelm Dorpfeld, Director of German Archaeological Institute
What Is The Temple of Poseidon?
The Temple of Poseidon was constructed between 444 and 440 BC, with 38 columns that rose 20 feet into the air. It also housed a 20 feet tall bronze statue of Poseidon in the hall of worship. The Temple is located at Cape Sounion, which is about 80 kilometers away from the capital of Athens, offering spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. The site was cited as holy ground by Herodotus and Homer, with inhibition of the area dating back to 2800 BC.
According to Greek mythology, Poseidon’s power is second to only Zeus. As the god of the sea, the mariners and fishermen of ancient Greece prayed to Poseidon to keep them safe from storms and shipwrecks and often left animal sacrifices and other gifts at the temple.
Why The Temple of Poseidon So Famous?
Erected during the Golden Age of Pericles, The Temple of Poseidon is devoted to the Olympian God of Sea, Poseidon. It forms the Sacred Triangle of antiquity along with the Parthenon and the temple of Aphaia on Aegina Island.
The first excavation of the site was made by Wilhelm Doprfeld, who was director of the German Archaeological Institute in 1884.
Located on a cliff, it offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea. Catching a sunset over the Aegean Sea from the temple is a truly memorable experience.
Where is The Temple of Poseidon Located?
The Temple of Poseidon is located at Cape Sounion at the southern tip of mainland Greece.
The easiest way to reach the attraction is by bus since numerous bus services are operating from Athens. It is also possible to reach by car, but the last stretch from the highway to Cape Sounion can be a challenge.
Catch serene views of the Aegean Sea from your vantage point at the Temple of Poseidon. The sunset views are unmatched and guarantee to give you the memory of a lifetime.
Who Built The Temple of Poseidon?
The first version of the temple was constructed in the archaic period. However, it was destroyed in 480 BC by the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars. Pericles rebuilt the temple in around 440 BC, although only 16 of the original 38 columns stand today. The temple also housed a massive Bronze statue of Poseidon, although only a part of it survives and can be found at the Archaeological Museum of Athens.
What To See At Temple of Poseidon?
- The Temple of Poseidon was built between 444 and 440 BC, by Iktinos, during the Golden Age of Pericles.
- The temple is located approximately 200 meters above sea level on the edge of a rocky cliff offering stunning views of the Aegean Sea during sunset.
- The temple offers an insight into Athenian culture, mythology, and traditions.
- As the first Athenian landmark that can be seen from the Aegean Sea, it was cited as holy grounds by Herodotus and Homer.
History Of Temple of Poseidon
The Temple of Poseidon was built between 444 and 440 BC with marble from the Agrilesa valley. Sailors and mariners believed that storms resulted from Poseidon’s wrath, and the temple served as a palace where they hoped to appease Poseidon and find favor. The architect is believed to be Iktinos, who built the Parthenon and the Temple of Hephaestus in Ancient Agora. Iktinos built these 20 feet tall columns such that they would stand the test of time.
Artifacts uncovered include the marble kouros statue, popularly known as the Sounion Kouros, dating to 590 BC, and the ‘self crowning athlete’ dating back to 460 BC. The remains of these marble sculptures and Poseidon’s 5-meter tall bronze statue are now displayed at the Mineralogical Museum of Lavrio and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. One of the Doric columns is on display at the British Museum in England.
The temple was first excavated in 1884 by Wilhelm Doprfeld, who was director of the German Archaeological Institute. Between 1897 and 1913, more systematic excavations were made by Valerios Stais.
Temple of Poseidon Design & Architecture
The temple is built with a hexastyle layout, featuring six Doric columns on the front portico. The columns are made of white marble quarried from the Laureotic Olympus hill. The Doric columns are more slender at the top than at the bottom, making them appear taller than they really are. There are 6 columns on either end and 13 columns on each long side of the temple.
The temple resembles the well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus. It is rectangular in shape and has a frieze that depicts the tale of Theseus and the Battle of Centaurs. At the center, just beyond the colonnade, is the hall of worship, a windowless rectangular room. The room also housed a 5-meter tall bronze statue of Poseidon.
Temple of Poseidon Myth & Legends
The Temple of Poseidon has several myths and legends surrounding it.
It is believed that the King of Athens, Aegeus killed himself here by jumping off the cliff. The King had waited at the cliff looking out to the sea for the return of his son, Theseus, and his army. On seeing black sails on the ship, he mistakenly thought that Theseus had been killed by Minotaur. Young Theseus, however, had won the battle but had forgotten to replace the black sail of the ship with white ones, leading to the King’s death.
According to the Greek epic Odyssey by Homer, Sounion is the site where King Menelaus of Sparta buried his helmsman.
Sailors also believed that making animal sacrifices and offerings at the Temple of Poseidon would save them from Poseidon’s wrath, and keep them safe from storms while they were out at sea.
Temple of Poseidon Facts
- The Temple of Poseidon is almost 2500 years old, having been constructed between 444 and 440 BC.
- The architect who built the Temple of Poseidon is believed to be the same one who built the Temple of Hephaestus and the Parthenon.
- The Temple of Poseidon is built on top of a poros temple which was razed by the PErsians in 490 BC while still under construction.
- The Temple originally had 38 Doric columns, of which 16 are estanding today. Four of these columns were re-erected during the 20th century.
- The British poet Lord Byron was so fascinated with the Temple of Poseidon that he graffitied his name on one of the pillars in the 19th century.
Know Before You Visit Temple of Poseidon
A. The cloation was cited as holy ground by Herodotus and Homer, and it has been inhabited by people dating back around 2800 years.
A. Yes, the Temple of Poseidon is a must-visit for anyone visiting Athens and interested in Greek history.
A. The best time to visit the Temple of Poseidon is in the evening, just before sunset.
A. As the name suggests, the Temple of Poseidon is dedicated to the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon.
A. The Temple of Poseidon was constructed between 444 and 440 BC.
A. The Temple of Poseidon is located about 50 kilometers from Athens.
A. From the Temple of Poseidon, you can catch panoramic views of the Aegean Sea.