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The Olympieion's foundations were laid (on the site of an earlier temple) by the tyrant Pisistratus in 515 BC, but the work was abandoned when Pisistratus's son, Hippias, was overthrown in 510 BC.

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During the years of Greek democracy, the temple was left unfinished, apparently because the Greeks of the classical period thought it anti-democratic to build on such a scale. Aristotle cited the temple as an example of how tyrannies engaged the populace in great works for the state and left them no time, energy or means to rebel.

What to See at the Temple of Olympian Zeus

The graceful ruins of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus can be clearly seen from the Acropolis and are floodlit at night. The temple is made of fine marble brought from Mount Pentelus and originally measured 96 meters long and 40 meters wide.

Hadrian had erected a giant gold and ivory status of Zeus in the cellar, and placed an equally large one of him next to it. Unfortunately, however, nothing remains of these or anything else from the interior of the temple.

History of the Temple of Poseidon

Soúnio has been a sacred site since very ancient times. The "sanctuary of So union" is first mentioned in the Odyssey, as the place where Menelaus stopped during his return from Troy to bury his helmsman, Phrontes Onetorides.

Archaeological evidence has shown that there were two organized places of worship on the cape by the 7th century BC: a sanctuary of Poseidon at the southern edge and a sanctuary of Athena about 500 m to the northeast.

What to See at the Temple of Poseidon

Local marble was used for the Temple of Poseidon's Doric columns; 15 of the original 34 survive today. The columns were cut with only 16 flutings instead of the usual 20, which reduced the surface area exposed to the wind and sea water.

On the east side of the main path is an Ionic frieze made from 13 slabs of Parian marble. Badly eroded now, it depicted scenes from the battle of the Lapiths and centaurs and from the adventures of the hero Theseus (son of Poseidon in some legends).

The east pediment, on which only a seated female figure is preserved, probably once depicted the battle between Poseidon and Athena for the domination of Attica.

History of Varlaam Monastery

In 1350, an ascetic monk named Varlaam climbed this great rock and settled at the top. He built three churches, a cell for himself and a water tank. No one chose to follow his lead, so after his death the site was abandoned.

The buildings fell into ruin for almost 200 years until 1517, when two rich priest-monks, Theophanes and Nektarios Apsarades from Ioanina, ascended the rock and founded a monastery. According to legend, they had to drive away the monster that lived in a cave on the summit before they could move in.

What to See at Varlaam Monastery

Today, Varlaam Monastery is occupied by seven monks and can be accessed by a narrow bridge that runs from the main road. There is a pleasant garden in the compound, where a monk sometimes sits and chats with visitors.

The Late Byzantine catholicon of Varlaam has a cross-in-square plan with a west narthex, with a dome in each section. The frescoes in the main church were painted by the celebrated iconographer Frangos Katelanos of Thebes in 1548 (the date is inscribed on the south wall). The narthex was frescoed in 1566 by the brothers George and Frangos Kondares of Thebes.

North of the catholicon is the small "Parekklesion of the Three," an aisle less chapel dedicated to the three great bishops St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom. Originally built by Varlaam in c.1350, it was repaired by the founders in c.1520, renovated in 1627 and decorated with frescoes in 1637.

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