Thursday, August 18, 2011

Temple of Poseidon Overlooks Aegean Sea

High atop a cliff ...

Temple of Poseidon

Departing from Central Athens, we journeyed by motorcoach Along The Attica Coast to Cape Sounion at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula. Sit back and relax as we take you on a virtual tour.

According to legend, Cape Sounion is the spot where Aegeus, king of Athens, leapt to his death off the cliff, thus giving his name to the Aegean Sea.

The temple of Poseidon, god of the sea, was constructed circa 440 BC.  It stands over the ruins of another temple dating from the Archaic Period. Perched above the sea at a height of almost 60 m, the temple has served as a landmark for sailors from ancient times through the present.  If you are awake as the ship approaches Athens, this is the first sight you'll see.

Local marble was used for the Temple of Poseidon's Doric columns.  During your visit you will be able to see 15 of the original 34 which survive today.

Doric columns stood directly on the flat pavement (the stylobate) of a temple without a base; their vertical shafts were fluted with 20 parallel concave grooves; and they were topped by a smooth capital that flared from the column to meet a square abacus at the intersection with the horizontal beam (entablature) that they carried.

The columns of the Temple of Poseidon were cut with only 16 flutings instead of the usual 20, which reduced the surface area exposed to the wind and sea water.

The setting is known to have inspired poet Lord Byron and if you look carefully at the columns, you will find his name chiseled into the marble, dating back to his first visit to Greece.  We weren't inspired to write any poems, but we were inspired to take photos, which can be seen in our album, Temple of Poseidon.

Returning to Star Princess, following our exploration of Cape Sounion, we ended our visit to Athens. Our next port of call was Katakolon (Olympia), Greece. Visit our blog post, Diary of Cruise with Chris to Greek Isles, for the entire virtual tour. There you will find links to our other blog posts as well as links to the photos.

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