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Cape Sounion

After a marathon walk with Yioryis in the hills behind the village of Saronida we took a nice jaunt down the road to Cape Sounion. Here I was introduced to the ancient temple of Poseidon which sits high on a promontory that extends out into the Aegean sea.

Here Yioryis reminded me of the story of King Aegus and his son Theseus. It goes something like this. Theseus set sail for Crete as a part of a group that was intended as tribute for King Minos. Evidently King Minos demanded a tribute of fourteen youths; seven men and seven women each year who would be devoured by the great and feared Minotaur.

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Theseus set sail as a part of this group with the intention of doing battle with the Minotaur and ending the tribute sacrifices to King Minos. Before he set sail he agreed with is father that upon his return if he had been successful in his quest to kill the Minotaur that he would return flying a white sail.

Cape Sounion
Cape Sounion

Theseus was indeed successful and slain the Minotaur. However he forgot to fly the white sail upon his return. So when his father saw only the black sail he was so stricken with grief that he hurled himself from the cliffs just beyond the Temple of Poseidon into what is now known as the Aegean Sea.

Yioryis pointed out the stone from which King Aegus hurled himself to his death on the rocks below. While much of the area is roped off to keep tourists and others from venturing too close to the edge much of the area is open. The main temple is now roped off and un-pretentious guards mill about with the other visitors to the temple.

The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion

I was completely unaware of the presence of guards until one of them sounded an alarm alerting other guards that an invader had crossed the boundaries around the temple and were (somewhat) secretly ensconced inside the temple. The invader and his lady friend were removed from the area.

While we were there Yioryis scoured the areas that we could see from behind the ropes searching for the inscription in the temple wall that reads “Byron.” Evidently in the early 1800’s Lord Byron traveled to Athens and Sounion and is said to have carved his name into the stone below the columns.

Lord Byron was here
Lord Byron was here

It was Yioryis who was able to speak to one of the temple guards who then took my camera up to the area on the temple where the inscription clearly says “Byron.” While there is some contention about the authenticity of this carved name it is indeed clearly a part of the history of this place.

Byron mentions the Temple of Poseidon in his poem “The Isles of Greece.”

Lord Jim at Cape Sounion
Lord Jim at Cape Sounion

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25 thoughts on “Cape Sounion

  1. Raena Lynn

    Hi Jim,

    What an interesting story! Too bad that poor communication caused King Aegus to fling himself over a cliff! Now whenever I hear about the Aegean Sea I will recall this story. The pictures are spectacular and I can see that you had a most enjoyable and interesting trip. Good move on getting your camera past the ropes! I’m looking forward to more stories and pictures from you trip! Thank you for sharing.

    Raena Lynn

  2. Pj Zafra

    Hey Jim,

    Great post here! Such beautiful pictures! Gotta love the scenery here! Pretty interesting story you’ve shared as well. Thanks for sharing this and keep it up! 😀

  3. Rick Lelchuk

    Jim,
    It’s such a joy to read something that isn’t about SEO or setting goals.
    Your ability to meld a piece of history with the photos and a narrative set today is good reason to return. A sense of tranquility has spread over me.
    Thank you,
    RICK

  4. Willena Flewelling

    A leisurely scroll down the front page of your blog is a lovely reminder that one could visit your blog JUST to look at your amazing photos!

    I can only imagine what an awesome experience it is to visit these historic places in the world. To be there… stand on the ground and feast on the view that they did in the past. Even the tragic stories have their appeal…

    Thanks again, Jim, for sharing your travel experiences with us.

    Willena Flewelling

  5. David Merrill

    Thanks for the incredible tour, Jim.

    Great photos, make the experience really come alive.

    Captivating narrative keeps moving briskly along the pace you’ve so adeptly set for us. I feel like a tourist!

  6. Theuns

    Hi Jim

    What a great story and I love the photo’s .

    It is always interesting to hear about history and what the people
    did.

    Regards
    Theuns

  7. Jodi

    What an interesting story you had. Aside from this, I can only picture what an awesome experience it is to visit these historic locations in the globe. To be there… stand on the ground and feast on the view that they did in the past. Even the tragic stories have their charm.

  8. Dereck

    Jim,

    I’m always blown away by all of your travels and the history you inform us all about. It makes traveling back to your blog to learn about your most recent adventure maybe as exciting as it is for you to actually be there.

    Many thanks!

    -Dereck

  9. Nathalie Villeneuve

    Hi Jim, What a great post! I loved the pictures and the story. Wow! The sky and sea has the most beautiful blue! As I was looking that the view of Cape Sounion, I could just imagine the boat retuning with that black sail. How sad that King Aegus didn’t wait to be sure his son was safe…

    I love history and stories… I would love to take my family to so many place around the world!

    Thanks Jim!

    ~ Nathalie

    1. admin

      Hi Nathalie ~ The stories and the history of the places I have been make it all that much more interesting and adventurous to go there. I’m delighted that you have enjoyed my travels and the telling of the stories.

  10. Kevin Martineau

    Hi Jim:

    I love the way you tell a story with your travels and blog posts. This looks like a very fascinating place to visit.

    Kevin

  11. Lynn Jones

    Hey Jim, what a marvelous trip you were on. Rich in history, lovely pictures, a real adventure. I felt like I was there with you.
    Looking forward to the next trip with you.
    Lynn

  12. Cherrie Bautista

    Wow, I felt like I did some time and space travel while reading your post! It’s a very beautiful place, definitely looks historical. I wonder how it feels like to be actually there. Someday… someday… In the meantime, I’ll enjoy reading more about your adventures in your travel 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    1. admin

      Hi Cherrie ~ I was told while I was there that it was particularly hot and humid. But because over the past two years I have (deliberately) lost 120 pounds I was soaking up all the warmth I could get. Being there is nothing short of awe inspiring. And while I was aware that there were protests and demonstrations around I never saw any of it. Generally the people shared that there are no jobs to be had during the winter months. Many Athenians take summer jobs on the myriad Greek Islands where they work seven days a week for about five months and save what they make so that they can survive the winter. Nevertheless my trip to Greece was awesome. I look forward to a return journey.

  13. Dr. Erica Goodstone

    Fascinating story. You made it come to life. I could actually imagine the whole scenario. They say that we are all one. I feel as if I have gone on that brief journey with you. Thanks for sharing it.

    Warmly,

    Dr. Erica

  14. crescele

    Hey Jim, what an interesting story! Tragic but interesting nonetheless. I enjoy reading your blogs because they’re informative as they are entertaining. I’m going to have to remember this story so I can tell them to my friends when we get a chance to visit Cape Sounion someday. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Lynda Cromar

    Thanks Jim for a very entertaining story about ancient Greek history. I love the pictures, thanks for taking us on tour with you!

  16. Dave and Dawn Cook

    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the trip to ancient Greece. The pictures you show gain their 1,000 words by the history you gave us.

    What a sad story of poor communication. King Aegus should have texted his son first to find out if his son just forgot to switch the sails…oh yeah, that is just our advantage today.

    It is so amazing how times have changed and it’s the pictures and history that you provide us here in your blog that help us realize how good we have it now.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    (Dave) and Dawn

  17. Marc Korn

    Hi Jim,

    Your posts and stories continue to captivate the imagination. Your vivid pictures and story telling actually transport the reader to the actual scene, so we feel like we are travelling with you.

    For those of us that may never visit these amazing and historic venues, these mini trips are fascinating.

    Thanks for sharing another fantastic journey.
    Marc

  18. admin

    It’s funny you should say that my description is so picturesque. I have a young Greek man who works for me here in the states who has been to this place and he is awestruck that I can recall such wondrous things about his country when he can not. Perhaps he consumes little too much Ouzo.

  19. The Temple of Poseidon | Travels With Jim

    […] There’s also an inscription on the inside of the Temple from Lord Byron who in the 1800’s had traveled to Athens and Sounion that I have seen on my first trip just a few years ago. I have a blog post about it at http://www.travelswithjim.com/cape-sounion/ […]

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