Situated on ahilltop just 400 metres to the northeast of the sanctuary of Poseidon and encompassed by a limestone polygonal circuit wall, the sanctuary comprisedthe Temple of Athena, a smaller temple andaltars in addition toawidedeep pit accessible through hewn steps. Its initial use remains obscure, yet we know that, after the Persian Wars, it served as a deposit for the archaic offerings.
The Temple of Athena stands out for its peculiar architectural plan, as also highlighted by Roman architect Vitruvius (in his influential De Architecturawritten in the first century BCE), whose description helped with its identification. Made of Agrileza marble, the Ionic temple had a rectangular cella, in the middle of which four columns supported the roof, and was surrounded by a colonnade only on the east and south (two of the Ionic capitals of the unfluted columns are currently exhibited in the Agora Museum in Athens). Overall, the temple is characterized by simplicity with no sculptural decoration.In the back of the cella the foundations of the pedestal on which the cult statue was erectedarestill preserved.A further peculiarity of this temple is the location of the altar, which is found at the south side of the temple, as indicated by a flat cutting in the rock.
The exact date of the temple is still a matter of debate. Some scholars maintain that itwas built in 470 BCE, while others claimthat it dates to the time of the Peloponnesian War. There is, however, a totally different view that distinguishes two phases in its construction, with the external colonnade and roof constituting later additions.
Equally debatable is the dating and the identification of the small Doric temple that lies next to the temple of Athena. It had merely two columns on the east façade, as attested by their preserved square foundations. The base for the cult statue made of Eleusinian marble is still visible in the back of the cella,similarly to part of the altar located to the east of the entrance. Dating back to the archaic period (600-500 BCE) or contemporary with the larger adjacent temple, it is believed to be dedicated to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, or Athena.
The sanctuary is adjacent to the north to an irregular circular enclosure which marks an older sacred precinct which has been attributed to the worship of ahero: according to the Odyssey, Phrontis, the steersman in Menelaus' ship during his return journey from Troy, was killed by Apollo and was buried at Sounion.