After our whirlwind half day touring Athens, we opted to join the group for an optional excursion to the lowest tip of the mainland, about an hour south of Athens.
Cape Sounion is the name of the town, and to get there, you must take a coastal road aptly named Poseidon Avenue (think the 1 freeway, with way less traffic). This part of Greece, next to the Aegean Sea, is called the Apollo Coast because it gets, on average, 300 days of sunshine a year, and Apollo was the god of the sun.
On the drive down, Angelina, our local tour guide, told us some quick facts about Greece’s islands and beaches:
- Greece has the largest coastline in the world at 10k miles long, mostly because of their 3,000 islands
- Greece boasts the cleanest water in the Mediterranean because while the rest of the world was going through the Industrial Revolution, Greece was trying to fight for its independence. Because of this, they do not have any large industry or exports, which is why their economy is the way it is today. However, we do get to experience crystal blue waters since there was no major industrial changes
- There is a Greek law that says they cannot have any private beaches, so every beach in Greece is a beach you can visit
After arriving to Cape Sounion, we had to take a quick walk to the top point of the peninsula, where Angelina told us more about the land we were standing on.
In the 5th century BC, Athenians fortified Cape Sounion because it was a strategic place to view if anyone was coming for Athens. And, as always, where people lived there were also sanctuaries to the gods. They decided that Poseidon was a good choice since they lived right next to the sea, and therefore the Temple of Poseidon was built. However, as they did in Athens with the Acropolis, the Persians destroyed everything on the site of Cape Sounion in 480, so the Athenians were forced to rebuild, and this rebuilt version is what still stands (mostly) today.
We did not stay here very long, but being able to walk along the coast and think about what it must have been like to have lived here in the 5th century, or even in the 400s, was exactly what I had in mind when we decided we were going to go to Greece.
After looking around, we headed back to Athens for the night and prepared for an early wake-up call because the next day we were going to head to Delphi. More on that in my next blog post 😉 Stay tuned!