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Ancient Mycenae is a legendary city, whose imposing remains to attract visitors from around the world. In fact, this is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, and its most antique findings date from 3,000 BC.

The area of Mycenae Greece was excavated by the German amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1870. This constituted a milestone since Mycenae was mainly thought to exist just in literature and myths. The findings of Schliemann proved that the information provided by Homer in the Iliad, or by the famous geographer Pausanias was true. In fact, the Iliad was used as an important reference in order to find a place to start the excavation project.

Many of the uncovered objects are now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Mycenae. According to the Greek tradition, it had an acropolis, which belonged to the 13th century BC. It was actually rebuilt in this period- and was constructed on strong Cyclopean walls with a thickness of five meters. The name of this style is given by the large size of the blocks used. A mythological explanation attributed this work to the powerful Cyclops. The entrance of this wall, known as the Gate of the Lions, is the most ancient example of monumental sculpture, not only in Greece but in the whole of Europe.

Although the Mycenaean people are known as being efficient warriors and hunters, the mentioned findings provide more information about their activities and way of life. The pottery provides signs of extensive trading between Mycenae and other city-states. In fact, remains of Mycenaean pottery were found as far as Italy and Egypt. Mycenae has also the reputation of counting on good merchants, dedicated to trade oil, animal skins and other raw articles for fine objects like jewelry from Crete, Egypt, and Asia Minor. The ivory carvings, gold ornaments, and jewelry that were found also give an idea of their wealth, although unlike the Minoans, Mycenaean society destined richness to the king and other officials and was not shared with the rest of the population.

Domestic artifacts such as cups and lots of bronze weapons were also found. The graves are another important component of the Mycenaean civilization. Before 1500 BC, the important persons of the Mycenaean society used to be buried in deep shaft graves. However, after this century the famous Tholos tombs were created. These tombs are basically a monumental work, consisting of great chambers cut into a side of a hill. Burying their leaders in such sumptuous environments is typical from such cultures.

The Tholos tombs were found in 1870 as well. The most important object found is the golden mask of Agamemnon, which along with other masks found in the graves of important Mycenaean chieftains, prove the Mycenaean tradition of burying important persons with a golden mask.

Reviews

4.8/5.0
8 Reviews
  • ailodg5 15 Oct 2011
    Impressed by the gate
    The road to Mycenae is quite safe and it will take you only a couple of hours to get by car from Athens Airport. We made a stop there on our way to Tolo. The Lion Gate impressed me the most, while the rest of the town is mostly ruins of neighborhoods. I remember it was very hot that day and we were tiring from the flight, but the site is constructed on a hill and there was a breeze refreshing us. We also visited the museum with the golden jewelry and the nice ceramics. Do not miss the Vaulted Tomb, it is close to the site and has great echo inside. The modern village of Mycenae is only 3 km from the ancient town but it has nothing to see. From Mycenae, Tolo is about 30-40 min drive.
  • elena34rt8 18 May 2010
    Ancient town on a hill
    It was not difficult at all to drive to Mycenae from Athens. The road was good and straight, no big winds or narrow spots. Rented a car online about two months before and got the car right after our arrival in Athens airport. The plan was to drive in the Peloponnese for a week and then go for another week in Naxos. We come to Greece the last ten summers but still hadn't visited the inland, which seemed a pity to us because we had seen so many nice photos of the Greek countryside and the archaeological sites there.

    Mycenae was in the plan of the first day and visited it just three hours after landing in Greece. The GPS made things more easy to find the road. Follow the Attiki Road from the airport and at the end of this road, there is Elefsina, then continue to Corinth. Have a stop at the Corinth Canal but be careful not to miss the canal (there are no signs and it is very easy to pass the canal and not even understand it). Next stop Mycenae. There is a small junction from the National Hghway that goes to the site. You pass a small vilage of Modern Mycenae which looked pretty empty except for the small hotels and the campings. After a couple of miles, there is the archaeological site.

    An ancient town spread along a hill. The most impressive spot of the site is the Lion Gate. The rest is mostly ruins of neighbourhoods and fortification. From the top of the hill you get a nice view of the valley. A small museum is next to the entrance with findings from the site and labels with the history of the excavations. Do not also miss the vaulted tomb in a walking distance souther from the site. This is called the Treasury of Atreus and it has great echo inside.
  • vasilikiang 01 Sep 2009
    Impressive spots
    It was a hot, hot, really hot day when we took an excursion to Mycenae, the oldest of the most famous ancient sites in Greece.

    Mycenaeis located on the slopes of a hill and you have to climb up through narrow footpaths. Fortunately, due to the altitude, the wind blows quite strong in Mycenae, so climbing up was not that tiring. The highest you go there, the best view you have to the above valley.

    The most impressive spot of Mycenae (and for me the only that stays in the mind, besides the gorgeous view and the Treasury of Atreus) is the Lion Gate, at the entrance of the site. The rest of the hill has some remains of builidngs and tombs and an underground cistern. You climb down some steps to get into the cistern, but it is too dark if you don't have a torch, so better don't try it.

    The Treasury of Atreus is about 10 minutes walk from the actual site and it is a tomb with a vaulted roof. Once inside, you will notice that it has great echo. It is said that this was the tomb of Atreus or Agamemnon, two important kings of Mycenae, and that it had many valuable, golden things inside, but it had been looted way before the excavations started in the late 19th century.

    The museum is interesting but smaller than I expected, only four rooms in two floors.

    One thing to notice was that almost all visitors were foreigners, we seemed to be the only Greeks there! I don't know what to conclude from this...
  • green33 26 Mar 2009
    Two hours needed to see the site
    We included Mycenae in our excursion schedule along with Nafplion last weekend. Although I live in Greece, I hadn't visited Mycenae before (it is a shame for me, I know!). The site is truly as impressive as people say, the best monuments were the gate with the lions and the vaulted tomb. It needs about an hour to visit the site and another hour for the museum, which is also worth to see.
  • pepitder 06 Nov 2008
    A place of kings and tragedies
    We went on Mycenae as a tour from Athens. It was a hot morning when we set off the bus and saw an impressive archaeological site lying in front of us. I had read about Mycenae back home, about its glorious kings and the tragedies that were connected to this ancient place. The gate of the lions, the Cyclopean walls, the vaulted tombs... Mythic figures like ghosts all over the place: Agamemnon, the abrupt king, his unfaithful wife Klytemnistra, their innocent daughter Iphigenia who was sucrificed for the sake of Greece, their unrational son Orestes who killed his mother and a daughter, Electra, secretly in love with her father... So many touching stories in a single place...
  • olgapet 03 Sep 2008
    Excellent and organized museum
    We spent last weekend in Nafplion and went an excursion to Mycenae, just 30 minutes away. I was impressed by the archaeological site. Only imagine that people, centuries and centuries ago, could build so high walls with barely no tools and machines at all!! The museum was very interesting and well-organized. Every exhibit had a label with full explanation. Very good work. I am Greek and I know that most museums in Greece do not work properly, but this museum in Mycenae was excellent. It is a shame that the Mask of Agamemnon was taken to the Archaeological Museum of Athens, I think it should come back there, right next to his grave.
  • patrinlove 18 Apr 2008
    A nice experience
    We didn't spend but a few hours in Mycenae. It was an impressive archaeological site in the Peloponnese, somewhere close to Argos. We went there because we had taken a daily tour from Athens to Korinthos, Mycenae and Nafplion. I felt like living in the past there, while I was strolling around the ancient paths of Mycenae. I thought that the story of Iliad, that I was studying at school, had revived right in front of my eyes. The remains were also impressive and really huge, I still can't understand how the ancient people managed to build the walls so high with such few tools they had at their disposal. It was trully a nice experience.
  • stanley_K 04 Sep 2007
    Mycenae such a historical place
    Mycenae really impressed me and my family. The cyclopean walls built with the huge rocks. The tombs were also impressive becasue of the way they were constructed like a bee hive. The new museum was great, very informative and fantastic artefacts. Mycenae is a must see site of Greece.

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