“If you haven’t been to Sounio, then we’re not discussing anything else.” My friend Chrysoula, also a travel blogger, was decisive. It was not so much advice as an injunction.
Watching the sunset from the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio a key Greek experience.
And, it has been for a while apparently.
So, imagine those earlier travelers while you applaud the sunset (really- everyone claps spontaneously!), the sea benign below.
Special Guest Star:
What indeed? But Sounio is a sight now- after Byron’s discreet (and possibly by proxy) defacing, imitators followed:
“lt is that Smith and Jones have rushed in with uninhibited zeal to claim their own slice of immortality, and the whole of the Sounion temple is a mass of grafitti today, thick as lace.” (The Greek Islands, same page)
Time does a lot. Durrell wrote this sometime before 1978. Had the temple been defaced during the 1940’s or 1950’s, we might see it less kindly.
A Redeeming Vice:
These were not some hoodlums with cans of spray paint and fat magic markers. They were hoodlums armed with chisels and hammers (or more likely armed with privately engaged stone masons) and, over the decades, there were lots of them. Given the advance preparation needed (the hammer, the chisel, the horses….), this must have been a treasured quest. You can imagine them writing of it in their journals- the remoteness, the success of their endeavor. Maybe this passionate vandalism was a rebellion paving the way for a greater one. Raising a tool to antiquity seems deviant. But it wasn’t Greece when the custom began, it was still the Ottoman Empire. Greece was a cherished idea in the hearts of the people who traveled out to this remote cape- yes to deface antiquity. But also to attach themselves to something timeless and monumental, something that- certainly in the case of Byron- they ultimately helped bring back to life.
To go to Cape Sounio:
Many organized bus trips can get you there in comfort, but this is the time to rent a car and hug the curves of the Athens Riviera.