Sounion, about an hour outside of Athens, is home to the beautiful Temple of Poseidon and some incredible views. This stunning structure was built around 440 BC and the standing columns remain a testament to the architectural prowess of the Greeks at that time.
It is the location of this Temple that makes it memorable and a place to visit. It’s sat high upon a hill overlooking the beautiful sea and presenting guests with one of the most stunning sunsets, if they time their visit perfectly.
The Temple has been famous throughout the world for centuries now. So much so that Lord Byron thought to carve his name into the columns, and set an unfortunate trend. Access to the Temple itself these days is now roped off, but as recently as the 1960s the Temple was entirely open.
Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion
Perhaps the most fascinating difference in this set of photographs is that the Temple itself has not changed – the same columns remain standing and seemingly there has been no major restoration work around this Temple, unlike it’s contemporary – the Parthenon- in Athens. Given it’s proximity to the sea it is no surprise that this Temple was dedicated to the Greek God of the Sea – Poseidon himself.
The major difference in the photos, aside from the weather, is entirely down to the people. As recently as the 1960s the Temple was entirely open to be explored at will – I even have a family photo taken in front of the Temple from this period. By the time I first visited in 1999 it was roped off to visitors, and I’m certain it happened many years before that.
Then – 1960s
These photos were taken by my grandfather, James Andreson, during his travels back to Greece.
The family photo is definitely unique from the time period, in the 1960s, where visitors could step inside the Temple.
Then – 1999
Apologies for the poor quality photos here, it was not the scanner, but my lack of skills as a young teenage traveler back in the late 90s. I went away to a church/culture camp in Greece as a teenager to get in touch with my Greek roots.
I spent 3 weeks at the camp and go to tour around the country, and saw many of the famous sites. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to get to know more about the country my family immigrated from. And it was a special moment to watch the sunset in that beautiful location after having visited the Temple.
Then – 2013
As an adult I had the opportunity to return to Sounion, with the guidance (and driving) of my local cousin. He took me out to the seaside for lunch and a visit to the beautiful site of Sounion. It was as beautiful as I had remembered and as moving, but as an adult I had a greater appreciation for the nuances and history of the Temple, rather than the raw and visual beauty.
Armed with my DSLR camera I finally got a chance to take some better photos (in focus, for example). It was a rare day in Greece with overcast skies rather than the stark blue that was showcased in the photographs from the 1960s or 1999.
The Temple had stayed the same, maybe a few changed out signs at most, but I had definitely grown as a person. I took the time to read the plaques, appreciate the nuances of the columns, and the incredible views for the details and not just the wider vision.