From Athens
to Sounio

The south coast of Attica and Sounio

The Attica basin, in which the city of Athens grows, spreads on the southeastern edge of mainland Greece. It is a large peninsula with a triangular shape. Its southern tip is the renowned Cape Sounion.
It is one of the most privileged geographically and climatically regions. It is no coincidence that in ancient times, it was the cradle of the great Athenian culture.
It is enclosed by four mountains. To the north by Parnes, northeast by Pendeli, east by Hymettus, and west by Aegaleo. Among them, there are the passages for the roads leading southwest to the Peloponnese, north to Central and Northern Greece and east to the eastern coast of Attica, surrounded by the South Euboean Gulf. The southern coast up to the cape Sounion is surrounded by the Saronic Gulf.

The Euboean Gulf is a long narrow channel that separates the mainland Greece from Euboea. Its length is 98 nautical miles and in the middle, in the city of Chalkida, is separated by the narrow Strait of Euripus in North and South Euboean Gulf.

The Saronic Gulf stretches between the eastern coast of the Peloponnese and the southern coast of Attica. The opening at its entrance is 27 nautical miles and the distance from it to the inlet at the Isthmus of Corinth 44 nautical miles. Another cove is formed in the Bay of Eleusis. In the coast many coves and bays are opened. Near, there are many islands and islets.
One of the advantages of Athens is that it is near the sea. On the coasts of Attica, there are beautiful sandy beaches and a rich variety of tourist amenities. Thus, the visit to the Acropolis and the other attractions can be combined with a nice holiday.

From Athens to Sounion

The south coast of Attica is highly urban and tourist-developed, especially the first part, from the bay of Phaleron up to Vouliagmeni. The distance from Athens to Sounion is 69 km.
There are large luxury hotels, hotels of all categories, villas and apartments for rent; also, restaurants, coffee shops, and nightlife. Many are near or beside the sea.
Up to Vouliagmeni, the seaside suburbs are one after the other. Many sandy beaches are well organized for recreation and sports. There are also marinas for yachts.

After Vouliagmeni, there are fewer settlements, at some distance from each other. The coast elsewhere rises forming small bays and harbors and elsewhere goes down with large sandy beaches.

Getting there

On the south coast of Attica we can go by bus and tram. City buses connect the coastal suburbs up to Varkiza. From then up to Sounion we go by suburban bus (KTEL of Attica).
The tram has three lines. In one line, the tram from Syntagma reaches the beach of Edem, in Palio Faliro, and continues west to Neo Faliro, where we can also go by the metro, which connects Athens to Piraeus.
The second line, the tram from Syntagma reaches again the beach of Eden, but it continues east. It passes from Palio Faliro, Alimos, Aghios Kosmas, Hellenikon, Glyfada and terminates at Voula.
The third line runs along the coast between Voula and Neo Faliro.

The bay of Phaleron is 11 km from Athens. It is located near Piraeus, between the Piraeus peninsula in the west and the coast of Palaeo Faliro in the east. At the shore of the great bay, they end the areas of Castella, Neo (New) Faliro, Kallithea, Amphithea and Palio (Old) Faliro.

In antiquity, until the 5th century BC, Piraeus was an island and the sea covered a large part toward the inside. A section of the current Neo Faliro and Piraeus was a quagmire. It was called Alipedon (salt meadow).
In the west coast of the current Palio Faliro there was the ancient demos (municipality) of Phaleron. Its port was unique in Athens on this side of the Saronic Gulf until the Piraeus was first used in the 5th century BC. The road linking the ancient Faliro with Athens existed until the construction of the great avenue Syngrou, and was protected by the Phaleron Wall.

Phaleron was the birthplace of Demetrius Phalereus, great statesman, orator and philosopher (345 – 280 πΧ). He was a good governor of Athens from 317 until 307 and the Athenians erected many statues in his honor. But he fell in disgrace and fled to Egypt, where Ptolemy the 1st entrusted him with the establishment of the Library of Alexandria.

The port of Phaleron was used until the Greek Revolution of 1821 under various names. In medieval times it was called Old Port (Porto Vecchio) and Port of the Three Towers, and in the newest era, port of Xerotagarou after the name of the owner of the land, or port of St. George from a chapel on an elevated position.

Neo Faliro, near Piraeus, was in the interwar years a cosmopolitan suburb of Athens. Today, the focus is a big football stadium and an indoor stadium, in which exhibitions and other events are held. Beside there is one of the best organized marinas of Attica for 250 yachts.

Palio Faliro was one of the most beautiful suburbs of Athens with stone houses and mansions. Today, though populous, retains its charm with restaurants, taverns and cafes on the coastal avenue Poseidonos. There is the large beach of Edem for swimming. There is also the marina of Flisvos, which has been reconstructed and modernized. Its capacity has increased and has now places for 303 boats.

Immediately after Palio Faliro it is located Alimos. Previously, the coastal part of the municipality was called Kalamaki.
Here it was the ancient demos of Alimous, where in 460 BC the great historian Thucydides was born. It was a worship center of Demeter and Poseidon. In the interior, remains of houses have been found; also, a cemetery, a ceramic workshop and quarries from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine era.

In Alimos, also densely populated, there are hotels, restaurants, cafes and a nice beach. A part of the coastal area is a park for strolling and recreation by the sea, with a large restaurant-cafeteria.

The walk beside the tram lines, above the shore, is also nice.

West of the park is located the marina of Alimos (or Kalamaki), one of the largest marinas in Greece, which can accommodate 1,100 boats.

One kilometer after Alimos stretches the area of Agios Kosmas with a beautiful beach and sports facilities, among the oldest of the capital, which were expanded and modernized for the Olympic Games of Athens in 2004.

Sports facilities there are since then also in the area of Hellenikon, opposite Agios Kosmas, where it was the old Athens airport. Much of the area is designed to become a park, but it still remains a plan.

In antiquity, the cape of the region was called Kolias Akra (Kolias Edge). Traces of two prehistoric settlements have been discovered. The one was founded in 2300 BC by islanders of Cyclades, and the other in 1600 BC by fishermen of purple corals. During the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC many Persian ships were wrecked here.

Four kilometers from Alimos and sixteen kilometers from Athens, stretches Glyfada, a populous suburb and a cosmopolitan tourist center. When it was created in 1929, it had 173 inhabitants. In 1951 the inhabitants were 8,250. The population continued to increase and currently has more than 70,000 residents.

Glyfada is located at the site of the ancient demos of Aexone, stretched from the foot of Mount Hymettus to the sea. The area was inhabited from the Late Neolithic Age. Remains of a settlement from the 3rd millennium BC have come to light; also a Mycenaean cemetery, the foundations of houses and workshops and findings from the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman times.

Glyfada has a rich market and many visitors day and night, especially around the main square and the major streets around it. There are large hotels, a golf course, restaurants, cafes and many places for play and recreation.

The shore is nice for walking and the big beach for swimming. A part of the coast is an organized luxury beach. There are four marinas for yachts and boats. In the "third marina", in five train cars are the facilities of the Sea Turtle Rescue Center, operated by the Association for the protection of the loggerhead turtle. The injured or sick turtles are transported here for treatment from all over Greece.

Two kilometers after Glyfada stretches Voula, also a nice suburb, with hotels, restaurants, a large organized beach and other smaller sandy beaches. At the region called Pegadakia, terminates the avenue of Vouliagmenis, which begins near the Athens center and passes in the interior of the coastal suburbs.

Nearby is the peninsula of Kavouri (Crab). It has a length of 1,200 m and a width of 400 m, filled of pine trees and with a large beautiful beach. In front of it, there is the islet Kavouronissi.

From its southern edge, another peninsula begins, named Lombarda. It extends, also filled of pine trees, towards the south, to a length of 1,800 meters, enclosing from the west the beautiful bay of Vouliagmeni. The view from Cape Lombarda is magnificent. South, near the coast, is the islet Kassidis and further south the island Fleves (Veins) and the islet Flevopoula.

In the cove of the bay, 23 km from Athens, stretches Vouliagmeni, with large streets, fine houses, hotels and taverns. Its beach is the oldest organized beach in Athens area; sandy, with shallow waters, attracts many swimmers. There is also a marina, which can accommodate 110 boats.

To the upper side of the coastal avenue, a road descends to a large opening of the earth. Low, in a wonderful natural environment surrounded by rocks, is located the Vouliagmeni Lake with baths and thermal sulfur waters, spurting from sources at a depth of 50 to 100 meters; they are known since antiquity. The temperature ranges from 20 to 27 degrees Celsius and are suitable for skin conditions, arthritis, chronic gynecological problems, sciatica and lumbago.

After Vouliagmeni the environment is different. The road follows the coast, which becomes taller and rocky, forming small coves called “limanakia (“small ports”). Many prefer to come here for swimming. At the roadside there are places for cars. The view of the Saronic Gulf is amazing.

Then the coast lowers forming a large sandy beach in the bay of Varkiza. The opening at the entrance of the bay is two nautical miles and the distance to the cove one mile.
By the sea, at 27 km from Athens, stretches Varkiza, with wide streets, nice houses, shops, restaurants, cafes and an organized beach. There is also a picturesque fishing port and next to it a fish-market, where you can find fresh fish. In the interior is the settlement of Vari, famed for its taverns and grill restaurants.

In the region it was the ancient demos of Anagyrous. A large cemetery of Archaic period and many findings have come to light. There were temples of Athena, of Cybele and of Hephaestus. The Cave of the Nymphs was a place of worship. The wall of Varkiza ashore was part of the port facilities during the classical years.

After Varkiza, the coast turns towards the southeast. The road passes through the beautiful areas of ​​Aghia Marina and Lagonissi, with cottages, taverns, and tourist facilities. The small peninsula Lagonissi, 40 km from Athens, extends along 900 meters.
After Lagonissi is the region of Kalyvia Paralias. The road always following the coast, which turns south, leads to Saronida, another area with cottages, taverns by the sea and beautiful beach.
Further south the bay of Anavyssos is formed. The opening at its entrance is half a mile and the distance to the cove a mile. In front it is the islet Arssida.
On the coast it was the ancient demos of Anaflyssos, which was stretched from Lagonissi up to Sounion and had a fortified port. Its center was the today area of Anavyssos, 52 km from Athens, known for its salt-marshes.
The main settlement is located in the interior. In the large cove of the bay are located the settlements of Paralia and Palaea Phocaea with great beaches and tourist facilities. There are hotels, apartments and rooms to rent, restaurants and fish-taverns.

The coast continues south forming some more beautiful beaches and then turns east. The road passes by the settlements of Charakas and Legrena, 64 km from Athens, nice and quiet area with a sandy beach.
Opposite is the island of Patroclus or Gaidouronissi (Donkey Island), within 3 nautical miles from Cape Sounion. It has a length of 2.5 km and a width of 1.5 km. Its coast is steep and rocky. It was named after the admiral of the Egyptian fleet Patroclus, of Macedonian descent, who was sent in 267 BC by King Ptolemy II of Egypt to help the Athenians in wartime and he fortified the island.

The road on the southern coast ends at Sounion, where it reaches also the other road coming from the interior of Attica and the eastern coast.
Sounion, with the homonymous cape, is one of the most beautiful natural areas of Attica and one of the most important archaeological sites, in which the famous temple of Poseidon dominates.
The cape rises 73 meters above the rocky shore, gazing at the sea extending southward, where the Saronic Gulf joins the Aegean Sea and the ships from the harbors of Piraeus, Lavrio and Rafina take the sea route to the Cyclades and other islands.
The sunset is enchanting. It is the time when the atmosphere gets a unique sweetness and the wind takes us back centuries ago as it passes through the columns of the Temple of Poseidon.

Sailors call the cape Cavo Kolones (Cape Columns). In ancient times it was called Sounias Akra (Edge) and was connected with the legends of Athens and the Aegean.

Here King Aegeus waited for his son Theseus to return from Crete, where he had gone to kill the Minotaur, in which the Athenians were obliged to offer each year as a sacrifice seven young men and seven young women. Theseus succeeded in his mission, but returning, he forgot to pull out the black sails and put white, a sign that everything had gone well, and Aegeus of his sorrow fell overboard giving his name to the sea.

Beyond the mythological version, the Aegean Sea seems to have taken its name from the “aiges” (“goats”) as they were called in ancient times the "high waves", which is anything but missing in the Aegean due to frequent winds.

Sounion is mentioned by Homer as a sacred place. The oldest traces at the cape are of two tombs of the 3rd millennium BC. In the area there was a large ancient demos (municipality) and on top, a fortified city. In 412 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, the area was fortified by the Athenians to control the transport of grain to Athens from the sea.

The most important findings come from two sanctuaries of the 7th century BC, one of Poseidon and one of Athena.
In the sanctuary of Poseidon seventeen statues of “kouroi” were placed as offerings. Here it was built in 444 – 440 BC, the temple of Poseidon; Doric, without internal colonnade, of local marble from the neighboring region of Agrileza. In its sculptural decoration was used Parian marble.
In the 1st century AD, the temple was abandoned. Over time first the rood was destroyed. Later, the western part fell in the sea. From the eastern part the two doorposts and several of the columns are kept.

At the same period it was built by local marble the temple of Athena. In the sanctuary of the goddess there are the foundations of the temple and a few remains of the 7th and 6th centuries BC. The temple was disbanded in the 1st century AD and its parts were transferred to the Agora of Athens in order to be rebuilt there. Traces of another smaller temple in the area are also preserved.

Photo Gallery

Sounio

Sounio

Vouliagmeni Lake

Vouliagmeni Lake

Alimos Marina

Alimos Marina

Peninsula of Kavouri

Peninsula of Kavouri

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