CLASSIC PANOS: Panoramas from Greece & Turkey

Dartmouth College

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Sounion

Rarely has a connection between topography and architecture been so apparent as at Sounion, a small promontory at the tip of Attica overlooking the Aegean— a point appreciated annually by thousands of tourists drawn by both the magnificent sunsets and the mystique of the ruins. Quite appropriately, the Temple of Poseidon appears to crown the Aegean providing a point of reference for those at sea much as it did in antiquity. Though the temple was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC, it was rebuilt later in the fifth century and continued to be an important center of cult for centuries thereafter. Religious activity at Sounion extended to the Sanctuary of Athena Sounias, located slightly to the northeast of the Sanctuary of Poseidon. Though two substantial temples were present at Sounion, the site was not important exclusively for religious reasons, since it also served an important military function in the later stages of the Peloponnesian War. Today, this aspect of Sounion's legacy survives in the ruins of a fortress two well-protected ship sheds that once enabled the Athenians to monitor and to some degree protect the passage of ships in and out of the area. The synthesis of religious and military functions made Sounion famous in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, but extensive archaeological finds dating from prehistoric times to the first century of the Common Era testify to the continued importance of Sounion throughout time. And today, as the sun sets and showers the land and sea with brilliant shades of red, orange, and pink, many Greeks and tourists alike would maintain that the spectacular setting of the ruins at Sounion still make this location uniquely appealing to the visitor. More...

-Shannon Stoval