Agamemnon’s Palace in ancient Mycenae is just outside the modern town of Mycenae. Last time I went there, Mycenae was a ghost town. The tavernas, souvenir shops and restaurants were all open, but had no customers. In fact it was a disappointing trip because Agamemnon’s Palace was closed to visitors, with no explanation as to why. There was no one selling tickets at the entrance, although there were a gaggle of German tourists hovering around in the vain hope that it might open. Check with the tourist information organization before planning a trip there.
I have, however, been to Agamemnon’s Palace on other occasions and must say it is very impressive. The Mycenaeans came to the peak of their civilization around 1600 BC and it is said they surpassed the Minoans on Crete. However, by 1300 BC they were fortifying their major cities and a thousand years later these had been abandoned or destroyed.
Greek mythology says that Mycenae was founded by Perseus who had the Cyclops (giants with one eye) build the walls around the cities he founded. Agamemnon was the son of the King of Atreus (or King of
Mycenae as these two names seem to be synonymous) and Queen Aerope. His brother was Menelaus whose wife, Helen was abducted and taken to Troy by Paris. Agamemnon was the commander of the Achaeans in the Trojan War.
The Palace in Mycenae is built on many levels and there are examples of Mycenaean tombs, (tholos) in the palace. One of these is known as the Treasury of Atreus.
The Palace is guarded by the lions of the house of Atreus above the stone gate which was narrow and only allowed a horse or donkey and cart through it. Homer refers to the “lions of the house of Atreus, but he is writing of Menelaus and Agamemnon. You need to be energetic to get to the top level of the palace. But if you manage to get there, you have some amazing views of the surrounding countryside and can appreciate why the palace was built on that spot.
From Mycenae you can go on to visit Nafplio or Epidaurus and the ancient theatre. It is possible to do the whole tour in a day if you are driving or if you hire a taxi for the day from Athens. Alternatively you will find accommodation in Nafplio or Mycenae if you want to stay in the Greek countryside for a time.
- Nafplio, First Capital City of Greece (lynnee8.wordpress.com)