When I found out that I would be visiting Greece for a family reunion last summer, I was beyond thrilled. As a child, I would often find myself buried in a Greek mythology book, so visiting the real country would be like my beloved myths coming to life before my eyes.
Everyone knows that Greece gave the world famous mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, and historians. Greece is also the land of ancient temples, built from the 6th Century BC and still standing today. And now, I will share a special fact that fascinated me the most throughout my trip. While visiting Athens, nobody skips stopping by and climbing the ancient steps of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon standing proudly at the top. It is a temple dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war. After admiring the structure and beauty of the Parthenon’s architecture, I looked at the rooftops of houses glimmering below me. The view was simply breathtaking.
And as one stands at the side and gazes past the city and lush mountains, he/she does not realize that two other temples are built to form an isosceles triangle with this one. Together, this geographic structure is known as The Sacred Triangle of Temples, and the Parthenon stands in the top corner. But, what is shocking is just the thought of how this was achieved with the poor tools and technology of the time. And as I stood there, trying to see what I could not, an image of Greek architects chiseling away at the intricate marble shapes popped into my head.
In the bottom right corner of that Triangle, on Cape Sounion, stands the Temple of Poseidon. Since Poseidon is the god of the sea, this temple stands overlooking the sparkling waters of the Aegean sea from above a cliff. I settled down on a bench in the shade of the monumental columns to wait for the sunset that Cape Sounion is famous for. As I stared into the water, I remembered a myth that stated that after falsely believing that his son was dead, King Aegeus threw himself off of this very cliff and into the sea, thus giving the sea his name. I looked up, and absorbed the gentle pink and purple hues that streaked the sky. This, along with the dark outline of the temple, was a scene I would never forget.
In the bottom left corner stands the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina Island. Myths say that Artemis (the goddess of hunting) made Aphaia a goddess after she saw the special talents she possessed, and this temple was built to worship her. The white marble structure of the Temple of Aphaia, I had to say, was less ruined than the other two temples. Perhaps this was because it was on an island, and there were no wars here. I was glad for that, as this temple showed what the other two could not: it showed its amazing beauty as a whole.
All in all, these three temples stood out to me the most because of the mystery behind their location and creation. How did the architects calculate the distance? Where did they get the tools to build this geometrically related structure? What was the message behind this triangle? What did ancient Greeks want us to know as they built these three temples? Maybe one day, I fantasized, when time machines were finally invented, we could go back to the time these temples were being built and see for ourselves what really went on… Then, and only then, will this ancient mystery be uncovered.
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