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What to see in Greece

Mycenae

Mycenae

Mycenae is one of the most renowned places of interest in the Peloponnese. Today it is one of the archaeological sites in the country that attracts most local and foreign visitors, which is hardly surprising since it makes an appearance in many of the best-known stories in classical mythology.

Tips for organising your visit to Mycenae

You might want to drive up to Mycenae from Athens. The trip takes a little over an hour on excellent roads. If this is your means of transport, don't stop at the first car park, because this is the one for the Treasury of Atreus. The car park for the Mycenaean site is a little further down the road.

Take a bottle of water with you, especially if you go in summer. It can get very hot and there is little shade to shelter you from the sun's rays. Sunscreen is not a bad idea either. This is also the reason why it is best to visit first thing in the morning. This means that not only will you avoid the hottest hours, but also the crowds of other tourists.

What to see in Mycenae

There are dozens of reasons why UNESCO declared Mycenae a World Heritage Site. This brief guide on what to see in Mycenae will show you several of them.

The Lion Gate

This is one of the most photographed and possibly best-known places to see in Mycenae. The blocks of stone that comprise it are impressive, although what stands out most are the figures of the lions from which it derives its name.

Don't worry if you see lots of people at this first stop on your visit to Mycenae. Not only is it the most iconic place on the site, it is also the gateway.

First funeral circle

This is the first thing to see in Mycenae after passing through the Lion Gate. Here you will find six tombs that once contained the richest treasures. One of the best known is the famous Warrior Vase, which was found in the southern area of the site, in one of the houses. Of course, the treasures are not kept here now.

The Palace of Agamemnon

This is just down the main street. The remains of the Great Hall are right next to it. The palace consisted of a group of buildings that crowned the Mycenaean hill. A great many festive and political events were held here during the city's period of splendour.

Postern Gate and Cistern

The postern gate and cistern are towards the end of the visit. The cistern still collects water today. You can go all the way down, although be warned that the floor is slippery.

As for the postern gate, legend has it that after killing his mother, this was the door that Orestes used to get out.

Treasury of Atreus

The tomb of Agamemnon or Treasury of Atreus is one of the most iconic places to see at Mycenae. It stands just two hundred meters from the site of the settlement and you shouldn't miss it.

A little history to understand why Mycenae is worth visiting.

The first thing to know is that the oldest remains in Mycenae correspond to the year 3000 B.C. However, the period of the city's greatest importance was around 1500-1600 BC.

The Acheans, the people who lived in Mycenae, created the earliest Greek civilisation. Their language was remarkably similar to Greek and they worshipped goddesses like Athena, Hera and Zeus.

Mycenaean hegemony peaked around 1300 BC, which is the period to which the largest number of archaeological remains on view at Mycenae are attributed.

We don't know why the city was abandoned by its inhabitants, although several factors may have contributed. These could have been invasions by other groups or internal revolts. This mystery only adds to the attraction of the site. In any case, it was abandoned around 1100 B.C. At this time the palace began to suffer significant deterioration. Mycenae was resettled, albeit briefly, 600 years later when the city of Argos ensured its destruction to maintain its own hegemony.

Mycenae in mythology

One reason why Mycenae is worth visiting is its connection with Greek mythology, which is still well-known centuries after the Hellenic religion ceased to be practiced.

Homer writes in the Iliad of King Agamemnon's participation in the Trojan War, which he and his Achaean army took part in when Paris abducted Helen, Menelaus' wife.

But it is not only literature that tells us about Mycenae. According to myth, the hero Perseus founded the city instead of staying in Argos where he should have become king on the death of King Acrisius.

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