We visited the Peloponnese for the first time when we were kids and I have a lot of great memories. Our trip with our caravan was memorable and we had the chance to visit a lot of areas of cultural importance. In 2019 we decided to visit the Peloponnese with our kids and see all these cultural treasures through their eyes and of course via the knowledge they had gaines at school. One of the most important decisions was our visit to the archeological site and the museum of Myceanae.
Mycenae was one of the most important cities of the ancient world and of course it was the center of the Mycenaean civilization. It was built around a hill, on which there was the Acropolis of the city with the dominant element being the Palace of its King. The Acropolis was protected by the Cyclops Walls, which were so named because of the volume of the stones which were thought to having been carried by giant Cyclps!
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The Lions Gate
I don’ t know if only my children were amazed by this impressive gate, as they had read so many things about Myceanae, but I think that the spectale will be imprinted on every visitor’s memory!
Unfortunately, the Lions’ heads have been stolen but certainly the Minoan pillar type (to remind them of their influence from the Minoans) and the lions’ bodies are very impressive anyway. This particular masterpiece is also the first sample of sculpture that later turned the Ancient Greeks into world-renowned artists!
Burial Circle A
The Burial Circle is one of the most important and well-preserved parts of the Acropolis of Mycenae as Slieman, during his excavations, found 14 kilos of gold objects. This fact is not only impressive for the actual number but also for the fact that in most of the monuments found in the area (such as the Tomb of Atreus, which was more exposed), the objects contained were looted and stolen long ago.
Another important information we get from the cemetery is the anatomy of the Mycenaeans as after detailed research on their bones, it was found the shape of their face and their height, and I assure you they were not short!). However, beauty was not their strong feature as, according to our guide, they still maintained the “monkey-shaped” shape that is found in older times!
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Actually, the Acropolis of Mycenae was not the city of Mycenae but the site where the Palace was located. In this area you could also find some administrative buildings, baths, the cemetery, workshops, treasuries, houses for the guards, the aqueduct, sanctuaries and warehouses. Of course, the King, the Queen and their family lived there. It was the protected area of the city that even the citizens were allowed to enter when the city was besieged by the enemies.
The Mycenaean civilization was warlike. The people of the Cyclades and Minoans would be considered as the “hippies” of ancient world as they loved peace, did not make siege raids and loved culture and the arts. The Mycenaeans, on the other hand, came from the Achaeans who had warlike and conquering tendencies, and it is no surprise that Agamemnon and his people also led the Trojan War.
Of course, they didn’t only fight but they were also great merchants who reached remoted and unheard for the time places, such as England, Pakistan and Norway.
In the Acropolis of Mycenae there are many underground tanks, many of which were found by mistake (when the ground receded!). If the Minoans were considered great artists, the Mycenaeans were great technicians and gave excellent examples of architecture and engineering. They had found a way, long before the Romans, to transport their water through the city by special pipes and their system is the first aqueduct. Impressive!
Museum of Mycenae
The Museum of Mycenae is quite small but it contains great treasures. In the first hall you will find several vessels of different types and uses. You can even see impressive vases with zero decoration that were the baby bottles of the time!
In the second hall, the presence of gold and jewelry dominates, most of which were found, as I told you, in the burial circle. The Mycenaeans were great at engraving gold and there are carvings on jewelry that need a magnifying glass to see all the details, which give great information on their religious and social life of the residents.
The gold objects in this showcase are the only copies of the Museum while the originals are in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.
As for the famous Mask of Agamemnon, we do not know 100% if it really is Agamemnon’s. However, Slieman, the archaelogist who discoverd the site, wanted to increase the value of the objects he had found and named them after the name of the King! In general, golden masks were an ordinary accessory used in the burial of the Mycenaeans, who believed in the afterlife and put in their tomb many of their personal belongings (gifts).
In this room you will also find personal items of ancient women, such as combs and tweezers! In general, the Mycenaeans were very flirtatious. They wore fancy clothes and they were the first to discover the bra. This way of appearance was mainly for religious holidays and social events
In the last hall you will find a great finding. Their first attempts at writing, which is considered to be the first Greek writing. In fact, they were symbols used during trade procedures so as to communicate with each other and with other people. The Mycenaeans spoke Greek and their spelling is known today as Linear/Grammiki B.
Treasury of Atreus
Most of the visitors do not know that using the same ticket they can also visit the Vaulted Tomb of Atreus or Agamemnon. However, we suggest that you stop here first as there is usually less queue at the box office (there are two, one here and one before the Acropolis of Mycenae!) But it is also a good introduction to the Mycenaean world.
Although today this tomb smells quite strongly inside (when we went in summer the phenomenon was more intense), in its time it was very impressive having many golden details (gold carved flowers on the inner wall). However, it was heavily looted and nothing was found inside. Also the intense black color on the inner walls shows that the farmers of the area used it to warm themselves and their animals by lighting fires.
Unfortunately, due to the conditions of the past, such as wars, illeterateness and poverty, these monuments are not preserved as they deserved. Their importance and the cultural heritage was not honor as it should and unfortunately today we can not enjoy all the treasures that were hidden inside them.
Did I intrigue you to visit it? Or maybe you have already been there? Waiting ofr your comments.
Day trip from Athens
Tip: If you have gone on holiday to Athens do not forget to make a day trip and visit Mycenae.
–Book your trip here (from tiqets.com). It will be a good opportunity to take a walk and in Nafplio, the first capital of Greece, to have lunch. The excursion includes a visit to the ancient theater of Epidaurus and the Isthmus of Corinth. It also includes entrance tickets to the archeological sites.
–Book also your trip here (from get your guide.com). Discover the historical treasures of Mycenae and Epidaurus on this full-day tour. Explore the ancient remains of Mycenae, the setting for the works of Home. Visit the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, still in use today.