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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 06 July 2019
ANTIQUITIES 16 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 6 JULY 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM The Temple of Poseidon overlooks the azure waters of Cape Sounion. Discover Cape Sounion f you wish to feel as if you're on a Greek island without leaving mainland Attica, visit Sounion. The must-see archaeological site perched on the craggy rocks of the cape, 60km from Athens, overlooks the Aegean Sea. The site has a rich history, featuring the spectacular Temple of Poseidon, as well as a National Park, and is famous for its view on a glorious sunset. Perched at the southernmost tip of Attica, the city-state of Athens was a significant strategic point in ancient times as it controlled the sea passage to the Aegean Sea and Piraeus, the central port, as well as the Lavrion peninsula - the location of rich silver mines that helped Athens emerge as a leading power in the 5th century BC. Homer was the first to I refer to Sounion, in Odyssey, as "the sacred cape of the Athenians". According to Herodotus, the Athenians celebrated a great four-yearly festival there. Poseidon's sanctuary is mentioned by the tragedians Euripides and Sophocles and the comic playwright Aristophanes. According to the Greek Ministry of Culture, the fortress and sanctuaries belonged to the deme of Sounion, formed through the state reorganisation by Cleisthenes in 510 BC. The settlement in the fortress probably forms the centre of the deme. In the surroundings of the fortress, another settlement is located over the port and a cemetery of the classical period on the shore. THE PORT AND THE SHIP SHED The port of Sounion is located in sandy cove north of the fortress, protected from the northern winds. It was used as an advanced naval base of the Athenians, as well as a commercial station. Commercial ships could be hauled on the beach, while for the maintenance and keeping of warships sheds had been built. THE SANCTUARY AND THE TEMPLE OF POSEIDON In the region where the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon currently lie, there was once an altar dedicated to the sea god during the Archaic Period. It was surrounded by two large Kouroi (male statues), but there was no temple. The first temple was constructed in the early 5th century BCE but was destroyed before completion by the Persians in 480 BCE. Its design was similar to the temple which followed. It was of Doric order, in antis, 6 x 13 columns. The second temple - the one that exists today - was constructed in 449/8 BCE by order of Pericles. Local marble (Agrileza) was used and parts from the previous temple too. In order to lay the foundations, the hilltop was flattened. The construction was completed in 440 BCE. According to archeologists, When in Greece, enjoy the full moon T he August full moon is one of the best times to visit the antiquities and museums of Greece. A popular initiative by the Greek Ministry of Culture, running since 2002, allows locals and tourists alike to visit ancient sites around the country for free. This year's events kick off on 11 August, culminate on 15 August and continue until 19 August. There will be 97 archaeological sites, museums and monuments open for people to enjoy on the brightest moon of summer. While there, visitors can enjoy live music performances and other cultural offerings to make the experience even more unique. Special events will be held at 48 of the open sites. Popular sites, such as the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum, the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, Elefsina and more are open to the public as part of the initiative. In 2018, the number of visitors exceeded 100,000 people against 74,970 in 2017 and 63,795 in 2016. the dimensions were 31.12 × 13.47 m. The columns had a height of 6.1 meters and are 1 meter in diameter at the base and 79 cm at the top. The architect is unknown but probably is the one who also designed the Temple of Hephaestus in the Agora of Athens, the Temple of Ares (which in Roman times was moved to the Agora) and the Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous, as these four temples were almost identical to each other. Sailors in ancient times knew they were nearly home when they first caught glimpse of the white columns of the Temple. The impressive view inspired many, including British romantic poet Lord Byron who wrote poetry about the spot and had his name carved on one of the marble pillars. SOUNION NATIONAL PARK The National Park of Sounio was founded in 1971. It is situated in the area of Lavreotiki and stretches into Cape Sounion. It is comprised of about 4,000 hectares, of which 500 are the nucleus of the park. The decision for its establishment was taken after having assessed that the ecological, historical, geological and paleontological value of the area. The pine forest of pinus halepensis was the most extensive and well-preserved pine forest of eastern Attica. The flora of the park also features herbaceous plants, many of them endemic to Greece including two types specific to the area: the Centaurea laureotica and the Centaurea attica. There are also more than 260 minerals in the area, which helped in the development of a unique mining 'industry' during ancient times. The area of the national park is interspersed with caves and other karstic formations. These formations functioned as traps for a variety of organisms in different geological ages, resulting in the creation of fossils at a high frequency which have been discovered mainly in the north of park. These include both plant fossils and animal fossils of species that do no longer exist or are extinct from the area, such as types of Spalax and Cervus elaphus that we can no longer find in Attica or Greece. Apart from the national park, a larger area, which includes the park, has been designated as a region of singular natural beauty and cultural heritage. * Adapted from Greek News Agenda. HOW TO GET THERE: A visit to the temple of Poseidon can be a half-day trip from Athens and includes a drive through stunning coastlines. It is easy to get there by public bus from Athens. The orange bus passes by 'Mavromateion', Filellinon Street, Acropolis station, Syntagma Square and select stops on Syngrou Avenue. It runs every hour from 7.30 until 17.30. The full moon of August.
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