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Temple of Poseidon: Athenian temple to the God of the Sea

Behold the Temple of Poseidon, perched majestically on Cape Sounion since the 5th century BC. Here, ancient myths, stunning vistas, and sea breeze converge, offering a one-of-a-...

Founded On

440

Founded By

Pericles

Quick information

RECOMMENDED DURATION

4 hours

VISITORS PER YEAR

200000

EXPECTED WAIT TIME - STANDARD

30-60 mins (Peak), 0-30 mins (Off Peak)

Did you know?

King Aegeus, father of Theseus is believed to have plunged to his death from the cliff here. After killing the minotaur, Thesaus' ship returned with black sails, which implied he was killed, (which was not the case). A heartbroken King couldn’t take it and jumped from the cliff to his death. The Athenians named the Aegean Sea after this mighty King and loving father.

The Temple was built to honor Poseidon, the god of the sea. In fact, inside the temple stood a 20-foot bronze statue of Poseidon, surviving in parts and preserved in the Archeological Museum of Athens. Being a seafaring nation, Athens had incredible faith in Poseidon and built the temple right near the sea and appeased him with offerings to keep them safe while at sea.

In 1884, German archeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld discovered that the current temple stood on top of an archaic temple of similar dimensions. It is believed that this archaic temple was razed to the ground by Persians in 480 BC while still under construction. In 479 BC, when the Greeks defeated the Persians, they placed the captured Persian warships at Sounion, as a trophy for Poseidon.

What to see at the archaeological site of Sounion?

Cape Sounion, once an ancient fortification, used to protect food supplies now has only remnants of walls, gates, and temples. But it does have gorgeous views of the Aegean Sea during sunset hours! Here’s what you can see inside the archaeological site of Cape Sounion.

Temple of Poseidon

Temple of Poseidon

Built around the 5th century BC, this temple stands proudly as the crown jewel of Cape Sounion. In the past, sailors revered the sea god, Poseidon to grant them safety and fortune on their long voyages. Although most of the temple is in ruins today, its imposing structure and remnants of its Doric columns offer a closer glimpse into the architecture and religious beliefs of ancient Greece. 

Temple of Athena Sounias

Temple of Athena Sounias

This is a smaller temple just a few meters from the Temple of Poseidon. It was dedicated to honor the ancient goddess of wisdom, Athena. Notice something interesting? This temple is on the same site as Poseidon’s Temple. Religion in ancient Greece was polytheistic, where people worshiped multiple gods based on their needs and preferences. 

Sounio Beach

Sounio Beach

Cape Sounion not only offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea but also is so tempting you’ll want to swim in the waters. Relax by the shore before browsing its surrounding shacks for a souvenir to bring back home. The clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and other water activities.

Cape Sounion

Ancient settlements of Cape Sounion

The Cape Sounion is super old, dating all the way back to the Bronze Age. In recent years, it has gained popularity for its silver mines and temple ruins. Look out for remains of the walls and gates, which were once used to guard food supplies from invaders. 

On your way to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon

The long drive from Athens to Cape Sounion is the real charm of traveling to this site. If you are traveling by car, choose the longer Athinion Souniou Road to see  UNESCO heritage sites like the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Athena Nike, along the way. You can also take de-routes and experience some of these landmarks from up close. 

Glyfada Beach

Glyfada Beach

Situated near Athens, this beach has a lively atmosphere and features upscale restaurants and trending shops. Take a walk around the buzzing Glyfada Marine, go for a swim, tan on their sunbeds, or dine at any of its fancy cafes. There is something for every traveler on Glyfada Beach. 

Kavouri Beach

Kavouri Beach

Traveling with your partner? Head to this hidden gem along the Athens Riviera and steal away a few moments for yourselves. This secluded cove is flanked by rugged cliffs and lush vegetation. Its crystal-clear waters are perfect for snorkeling and swimming. 

Limanakia Beach

Limanakia Beach

The Limanakia Beach is not exactly a beach, but rather a series of secluded coves. You will have a gala time playing hide-and-seek around their hidden inlets. Find your private spot and spend an afternoon reading or relaxing by the shore. 

Temple of Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus

You can spot the Temple of Zeus on your way to Cape Sounion. As its name suggests, this temple was erected to honor the King of the Olympian Gods. It is rumored that the original structure featured 104 Corinthian columns. Out of them, only 15 are standing in the present day. 

Archaeological site of Thorikos

Archaeological site of Thorikos

Theater kids unite! Look out towards the western side on your way to Cape Sounion and spot one of the world’s ancient theater complexes. Thorikos is not just a theater, but an ancient mining site. The giant complex contains a well-preserved theater and residential settlements inside.

Lake Vouliagmeni

Lake Vouliagmeni

If you have a few hours on hand, take a detour from the Athinion Souniou Road and stop by Lake Vouliagmeni, around 20 km away from Cape Sounio. Its waters are fed by thermal springs. Soak up their healing properties, unwind by the shore, or dine at one of their lake-facing restaurants. 

History of the Temple of Poseidon

  • 6th century BC: The first temple dedicated to the sea god Poseidon is erected, only to be destroyed during the Persian invasion around 480 BC. 
  • 5th century BC: Under Athenian Pericles, reconstruction begins. A new temple is built in the Doric style, featuring around 34 columns, on the same site. 
  • 4th century BC: The Temple of Poseidon functions not just as an active site of worship, but as a lookout point to track ships and enemy territories. 
  • Around 323 BC: Throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the temple continues to gain prosperity and attract more and more followers. 
  • Late 3rd century: With the rise of Christianity and the decline of Pagan worship, the Temple of Poseidon is slowly abandoned.
  • 18th to 19th century: The Temple of Poseidon is re-discovered by European travelers, who begin documenting their journeys to Cape Sounion. 
  • Late 20th century: The Greek Archaeological Society restores a portion of the archaeological site of Cape Sounion. A few sections of Poseidon’s Temple are also restored. By the turn of the century, it begins to attract the attention of tourists. 
  • Present day: Today, the Temple of Poseidon is an ancient landmark, protected by the Greek Ministry of Culture. Thousands of visitors flock to the temple to look out into the Aegean Sea. 

Who built the Temple of Poseidon?

It is not known who built the first structure of the Temple of Poseidon. During the Graeco-Persian wars, the original structure was destroyed around 480 BC. Around 440 BC, an Athenian statesman, Pericles sought to restore this temple. The construction process began around 449 BC and was completed in 440 BC. 

Besides the Temple of Poseidon Pericles also contributed to the construction of several other impressive structures in and around Athens like the Acropolis archaeological site, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Hephaestus. 

Temple of Poseidon architecture

Temple of Poseidon Architecture

Built around the 5th century BC, the Temple of Poseidon was dedicated to the ancient Greek sea god.

  • Doric columns: Like most temples constructed during the Classical period, Poseidon’s Temple also featured Doric columns. These columns had a sturdy build, with a fluted shaft. It is rumored that the original structure was far more imposing than whatever remnants stand today. Only 15 out of 34 Doric columns are visible today. 
  • Peripteral design: The temple displays a peripteral design, meaning it features single columns on all 4 corners, also called a colonnade. These structures allow a dramatic interplay of light and shadow, making the interiors windy and spacious. 
  • Stylobate: Upon closer inspection, you will see that the temple is constructed on a raised platform, called the stylobate. This distinction was made to separate its base from other structures in the area. 
Temple of Poseidon Representation in Popular Culture

Frequently asked questions about the Temple of Poseidon

Is it worth visiting the Temple of Poseidon?

The Temple of Poseidon is a must-visit for its historic ruins and scenic views of the Aegean Sea. You can spot famous UNESCO heritage sites like the Acropolis and the Parthenon along the Athinion Souniou Road. Poseidon’s Temple may be in ruins, but they retain most of their original imposing structure and Doric columns. 

Can I enter the Temple of Poseidon for free?

Book Temple of Poseidon tickets to enter the temple ruins in Cape Sounion. We recommend choosing Cape Sounion guided tours to enjoy comfortable, round-trip transfers and priority access to the attraction.

What are the Temple of Poseidon’s opening hours?

The Temple of Poseidon is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm on most days throughout the year. The site may be open until 6:30pm during the summer months, as the days are longer. Poseidon's Temple is closed to visitors on 1st January, 25th March, 7th May, Easter Sunday, 25th, and 26th December. On Good Friday, the site is open from 12pm to 5pm and on Holy Saturday, it remains open from 9:30am to 3:30pm.

What is the Temple of Poseidon’s location?

The Temple of Poseidon is situated on the southernmost tip of the Athenian Peninsula, around 60 meters above the Aegean Sea. The temple ruins are surrounded by rising cliffs and rugged terrain. There is a smaller area of worship, the Temple of Athena Sounios, and the Sounio Beach nearby. 

Can I bring children to the Cape Sounion archaeological site?

Yes, you can plan a visit to the Temple of Poseidon and Cape Sounion with your children. The pathway from the main entrance to the temple ruins is steep and uneven. It may be dangerous to let your toddlers walk that stretch. Carry them on a sling, as strollers will not roll smoothly on that terrain. 

Is the Temple of Poseidon wheelchair accessible?

There are ramps, armrests, and rest stops along the pathway for elderly folks and wheelchair users. However, it may be difficult for visitors in wheelchairs to stroll up the hill. If you have walking aids, you can make your way up the hill with a few stops along the way. It is best to bring along a friend or family member to accompany you on that stretch. 

Where to eat near the Temple of Poseidon?

You can grab a small snack or beverage from the Naos Cafe at the foot of Poseidon Temple Hill. The Veranda Restaurant and Ilias are a few other restaurants, a short drive away from the temple ruins, where you can enjoy seafood delicacies and authentic Greek preparations like courgette balls, Taramasalata, Moussaka, and more.