We spent last night under a stunning archaeological site that is nearly 2,500 years old; at The Temple of Poseidon, located on Cape Sounia on the southern mainland tip of Greece. It honours Poseidon who was in ancient times, the Greek God of the Sea and according to Greek mythology, his power was second only to the great Zeus. He was one of the twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religion and was also revered as the God of storms, earthquakes, and horses amongst other things.
The temple is sympathetically lit at night making for a most beautiful and romantic setting that is exaggerated by the bright orange orb of the sun setting on the sea in front of the temple. Many make the pilgrimage here to watch the setting sun as have countless people before them over millennia.
Last night there was an unplanned and devastating sacrifice to the sea God Poseidon who struck with his trident and claimed my iPhone for the Aegean; it plunged down to the depths of our anchorage never to be seen again after I snapped some photos of the gloriously setting sun over the sea. It was sheer stupidity on my part not to protect it better, as my iPhone was caught under the lifelines and snapped from my hands into the salty drink. Gone forever, my face leaked a few tears, and the rest of last evening was spent in recovery mode.
This morning with a fresh view, we made our journey up to the Temple which meant a tender ride in Waiata Iti to the hotel and restaurant bay in front of our anchorage and a climb up the 70-metre-high hill to where the temple is perched.
She is a gobsmackingly stunning piece of architecture with sweeping and impressive views out across the Aegean Sea. Built between 444 and 440 BC, the entirely white marble temple was built at the same time as Athens’s famous Parthenon and designed by the same architect, who was reputedly named Ictinis, during the golden age of Pericles. 16 columns remain of the original 38 and they each rise 20 feet toward the sky. In a classic ‘Trompe l’oeil’, the columns narrow as they ascend, giving the optical illusion that they are higher than they are. In an early act of graffiti, poet Lord Byron carved his name into one of the Doric columns, which are interestingly 16 flutes instead of the usual 20. Byron was fascinated with the temple and well before him, Homer considered this holy ground, and it is referenced in ‘The Odyssey.
As some of you know, I have had a deep passion for history and ancient architecture since I was 11 years old, when Mr. Taylor was my Social Studies teacher. His passionate explanations and demonstrations about history have had an everlasting and deeply powerful impact on me. It is the reason why travel and adventure have always been meaningful for me, and here I am again at one of the places he taught this then young girl about, so many decades ago.
And so here we are. My Captain and me. Anchored underneath the Temple of Poseidon for a second night. What a rich feeling that is after the challenges of the last week. As modern mariners it feels only fitting to pay homage and to be in a place of antiquity; a holy place where, in ancient times, the populace left offerings, prayed to for protection, and trusted their belief would keep them safe at sea and from storms. As he has received our sacrifice with a piece of modern technology, we hope that Poseidon will take kindly upon us as we sail off again tomorrow toward another new ocean.
Today’s song is a wicked dance track. We Are Justified and Ancient, by The KLM (featuring Tammy Wynette)
Justified and ancient,
ancient and a-justified
Rocking to the rhythm in their ice cream van
With the plan and the key to
Enter into Mu Mu
Vibes from the tribes of the jams
I know where the beat is at
‘Cause I know what time it is
Bring home a dime
Make mine a “99”
New style, meanwhile, always on a mission while
Fishing in the rivers of life