Travel

Greece: Sea god on site

The Temple of Poseidon, at Cape Sounion, is still magnificent - despite taking a battering over the centuries.
The Temple of Poseidon, at Cape Sounion, is still magnificent - despite taking a battering over the centuries. Jim Eagles

POSEIDON, the ancient Greek god of the sea, was showing off his power during my visit to his marvellous temple at Cape Sounion.

This rocky headland, which juts into the Mediterranean at the southeastern tip of Attica, was the perfect place for an early naval power to celebrate its alliance with the Olympian ruler of the oceans, and the city-state of Athens did so in spectacular fashion.

As I climbed up the stone path leading to the site, perched above 60m-high cliffs, the wind was howling through the 16 massive columns that have survived earthquakes and war for more than 2500 years.

Despite the battering it has suffered over the centuries, the temple looked magnificent - there were 42 columns in its heyday when it must have been truly awe-inspiring, so it was understandable that even so powerful a god as Poseidon should feel protective of the place.

During my search for a good camera angle showing the temple and its ocean backdrop, I had the temerity to stand on top of a wall - built by the Athenians during Peloponnesian War when the cape became a strategic stronghold - and one particularly powerful gust of wind nearly knocked me over.

I climbed down quickly and the wind seemed to ease off a little.Angry white horses rode the surface of the sea below and waves smashed into the jagged shoreline as Poseidon signalled his evident disapproval.

It's worth visiting Cape Sounion just for the hour-long drive from Athens, which meanders down the coast past several small fishing ports and many more beach resorts. On most of the beaches, rows of umbrellas and deckchairs were laid out but, thanks to Poseidon's tantrum, all were deserted.

Some of the fishing boats were operating close to shore and we stopped briefly to watch a trawler hauling in a net while surrounded by a cloud of hungry gulls. Obviously the fishing here is still good, because we also passed a few taverns advertising fresh fish.

It seemed an appropriate spot for a sea god to hang out so it was no surprise when, rounding one of the many rocky points, we saw the temple standing impressively from across the bay.

The site looks out over the Agean Sea - apparently so-named after King Aegeus of Athens threw himself to his death from this spot because he thought his son Theseus was dead - allowing us to enjoy views of several small islands, a small fleet of fishing boats, a yacht beating its way up the coast and the Peloponnesian Peninsula in the distance.

The original temple was probably destroyed by the Persian King Xerxes after he defeated the Athenians in 480BC. When the Athenians got their revenge against the Persians in the naval Battle of Salamis, they rebuilt the temple and presented Poseidon with a Persian warship as a gesture of thanks.

Its spectacular setting has attracted celebrities for generations - though not always with happy consequences. King Menelaus stopped here to cremate his helmsman on his way back from the seige of Troy but, according to the Greek poet Homer, Poseidon sent a storm which scattered the ships.

The English poet Lord Byron mentioned it in his poem, Isles of Greece - he was apparently among the many people who have carved their names on the temple columns - and died of fever not long after. Since I was already wary of Poseidon, I didn't try to carve my name on one of the fallen columns near the temple. Instead, we enjoyed cappuccino freddos at the small cafe near the temple and I took the opportunity to sip a toast to the god's health.

Then we slipped away to Athens where the temple of Zeus, king of the gods, sat opposite our hotel.

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  greece, greek islands, travel, travelling




Splendour organisers offer free rides after bus chaos

Jenna Podolczak posts this picture of festival-goers "sleeping in the mud" to the Splendour in the Grass Facebook page.

Festival-goers resorted to walking home along highways last night.

Have you seen this man? Investigations into Bangalow theft underway

Police believe the man shown in these cctv images may be able to assist with the investigation of a Bangalow theft.

The man may be able to assist police with investigations.

Politician cancels Splendour gig

DEBATE: Tony Jones' Q&A; at Splendour is one of the most popular non-music-related events of the festival.

Changes in the line up for Q&A with Tony Jones tomorrow

Latest deals and offers

Guy Sebastian a hit at Splendour in the Grass

Guy Sebastian performs at Splendour in the Grass with Paces.

REALITY TV judge a hit with festival crowd.

Splendour revellers cool down with giant emoji

The Mr Poopie sculpture at Splendour in the Grass.

Mr Poopie sculpture is inspired by the ice cream/poop emoticon.

Superheroes of the big screen enjoy sounds of Splendour

CHRIS Hemsworth and his Avengers mates drop by Byron festival.

Indigenous artist shows tourists secrets of Aboriginal painting

Ever thought "I could do that" about Aboriginal art?

Dynamic pics from Splendour Day 1

The Strokes perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Check out the latest pictures from Splendour in the Grass.

Politician cancels Splendour gig

DEBATE: Tony Jones' Q&A; at Splendour is one of the most popular non-music-related events of the festival.

Changes in the line up for Q&A with Tony Jones tomorrow

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started