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Mycenae

Visiting Mycenae:

 

opening hours:

IV              8:00 ÷ 19:00

IV ÷ VIII    8:00 ÷ 20:00

IX              8:00 ÷ 19:00

X ÷ III        8:00 ÷ 18:00

 

the price of the combined ticket for the excavations in Mycenae, the Archaeological Museum and the Treasury of Atreus:

IV ÷ X:  12,- normal / 6,- reduced

XI ÷ III:   6,-

 

coordinates for navigation:

 

parking in front of the excavations in Mycenae:

37.73035, 22.75433

 

parking lot in front of Agamemnon's Tomb:

37.72746, 22.75452

Underground cistern in the Mycenaean citadel

In the north-eastern corner of the Mycenaean citadel, i.e. for visitors - at the back of the archaeological site, there is an entrance to an underground water reservoir. Its creation dates back to the 13th century BC. The reservoir was to provide residents with water in case of a siege. The source, both in the so-called Bronze Age and today, is about 360 meters north and 13 meters up. The water supply system and filter system still amazes. Because it flows into a 5-meter-deep pool, thanks to a pipeline laid in the rocks, at the end of which stones are rarely placed, which trap any contamination.

Religious center of worship in Mycenae

During the research, a very large influence of the Minoan Crete was found. This is evidenced by frescoes, seals and golden rings, but most of all by the way the ritual is performed. In both cases, no buildings dedicated solely to the cult were found, meaning that sacred enterprises took place in the open or atop the Acropolis. Ancient temples were discovered in Mycenae, but from a later period. In his works, Homer points out that the Mycenaean religion should be associated with the cult of heroes and ritual funerals. Nevertheless, at the site of the excavation, buildings were identified in which wall frescoes and found objects clearly indicate the worship of idols. Both the pictures and the so-called Votive gifts can be seen in the local museum.

The Treasury of Atreus or the Tomb of Agamemnon

When Henrych Schliemann discovered Mycenae in the years 1874-1876, he found the thematic tomb tholos, i.e. a building on a circular plan. The largest and most impressive of all nine tombs discovered in Mycenae, it contained enormous amounts of gold, gemstones and ivory products. And while it might seem that the location of the structure far from the center of the fortress would suggest that the person buried here is less important, archaeologists prove the exact opposite. In addition, the German archaeologist Henrych Schliemann decided that the tomb belongs to the most famous ruler in the history of Mycenae, i.e. the Great Agamemnon. Today it is known that someone was buried here much earlier. Nevertheless, it had to be a politically important person, very rich, most likely belonging to the royal elite.

The Treasury of Atreus, also known as Agamemnon's tomb, was built between 1350 and 1250 B.C. It was built in the shape of an ogival dome created thanks to a specific structure. Well, successive layers of blocks made of porous rock were transferred back to the center of the tomb to form a dome. Then the protruding edges were cut and polished in such a way that a relatively even internal surface of the dome was created. The numbers are impressive;

Along the 36-meter-long entrance there are triangular walls made of the same stone as the tombstone. The gate lintel with dimensions of 8.3 x 5.2 x 1.2 [m] weighs ... 120 tons! Two huge stone blocks, positioned vertically, must carry not only the weight of the boulder, but also the dome above it. Even then, in the 13th century BCE it is noted that due to the triangular void above the lintel, the forces resulting from the weight above will propagate along the sides of the triangle. Thanks to this, the large stone will not break. The decoration was made of two Minoan-style semi-columns glued to the facade.

The inner diameter of the tomb dome is about 15 meters and the height is 13.5 meters.

On the right side there is a small chamber in which the body of the deceased has been placed. On the other hand, the main hall probably served as a place for performing rituals.

The entire tomb is covered with a layer of earth, so from a distance it looks like a natural hill from the ground level.

The Shaft Graves of Myceane

 

The oldest ones come from the 17th century BC, when the society burned the corpses of the dead. Only the rulers and the highest dignitaries built tombs with a very characteristic and unique structure. The name "shaft graves" is not accidental. There was a tunnel 1-5 m deep, narrow but long, surrounded by stones. The tomb itself was circular in shape, surrounded by a stone wall. When visiting Mycenae, it is worth stopping at the Shaft Tomb A, B and the so-called The Lion's Tomb from the 16th to the 14th century BC. During excavations, golden masks and many other valuable masterpieces were discovered in them, which can be viewed at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

It is now worth mentioning the famous Vault of Atreus, known as the Tomb of Agamemnon, described below. It was built much later and its structure is different from the shaft, although a tunnel also led to the grave here.

The Lion Gate in Mycenae

 

Founded in 1250 B.C.E. It is now the most spectacular archaeological site and is the most photographed by tourists. This is the main entrance to the Acropolis of Mycenae. It is considered the oldest example of monumental sculpture in Europe. The entrance itself consists of two huge stone pillars and a lintel, on which there is a triangular boulder with an impressive relief for those times. It shows two lions, whose front paws rest on the altars and extend along the Minoan column. The simplicity of the relief and the lack of details delight the architects. Because with such huge and massive buildings, lace sculptures would look grotesque. The shape of the bas-relief is also interesting. The triangle takes the load from the upper part of the wall and distributes it through the lintel into vertical columns. On the other hand, the fact that no other entrance to the Acropolis has been embellished shows not so much the lack of wealth of the fortress, but, on the contrary, the pursuit of what is most important, i.e. security - the wall was to be primarily durable.

The Minoan Palace in Mycenae

 

In the very center of the fortress there was a palace, i.e. the seat of the ruler. Remains of wall frescoes have been discovered. Their themes were fights or female characters. The walls were also decorated with stucco, and the floor was lined with gypsum stone panels. Of course, there are also utility rooms, warehouses and residential houses in the palace.

Cyclopean wall surrounding the castle of the legendary Mycenae

Jan Parandowski, author of the famous "Mythology", described Mycenae as a gloomy castle surrounded by a wall of huge boulders. It is true that the elements of the walls are so large and heavy that it seems impossible to make them with human hands.

 

The creation of a stronghold, known as the citadel, that is, dominating the surroundings of the fortress, is attributed to the cyclops, i.e. giants with one eye. The wall surrounding the citadel was built of huge boulders, which can be seen especially in the famous Lion's Gate.


Huge boulders are arranged alternately like Lego blocks. Without a joint, they create a thick and durable wall.

 

It remains a mystery to this day; like the wall was made of huge chunks of rock without modern machinery.

Visiting Mycenae

Before starting the tour, it's worth knowing that the numerous conquests of the brave Mycenae warriors in the Bronze Age (3000 - 1200 BC) literally gild the city. It was a very rich castle where the rulers liked this precious metal. Heinrich Schliemann was the first archaeologist to discover the ancient excavations between 1874 and 1876. He discovered five richly equipped tombs. There is talk of the many kilograms of gold he took from here, although it is said to be little compared to what is found in the legendary Troy.

It took some time for Agamemnon to return home, so news of the event had reached the castle in the meantime. The warrior was returning with the imprisoned Cassandra, daughter of the King of Troy. The woman, although beautiful, was a prophetess considered by everyone to be not fully aware of what she was saying about her illusions. One vision showed the deaths of her, Agamemnon, and their newborn twins. As it turned out later, her delusions were not delusions ...

 

Clytemnestra welcomed her husband on the threshold and took care of all the rituals. She organized a great feast with good food. She took care of fresh linen and a relaxing bath. Just when the mighty ruler, after the hardships of many battles, was resting in a warm bath, relaxing in hot water fragrant with olives and flower petals, his wife appeared.

 

She threw a huge fishing net over him and stabbed him while he was tied. According to some reports, she furiously struck a knife, spitting out her anger, regret and humiliation. Apparently the walls and floor were so stained with blood that they couldn't be washed off for many years. Cassandra and her children were also murdered that evening.

According to Greek mythology, the most famous rulers were Perseus and Agamemnon - king of Mycenae. The importance of archaeological excavations cannot be overestimated, as this site gave rise to the name of the Mycenaean era, attributed to the origins of Greece, which lasted between 1550 and 1150 BC. The rulers are described as extremely brave, tough, ruthless and gold-loving. According to one hypothesis, the founder of the city was the hero Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, daughter of the king of Argos, according to another he fortified Mycenae. Agamemnon was the most famous king. The constant conquest of new lands and the gains brought from the expeditions contributed to the flourishing of the stronghold. And yet he became famous not because of his courage, but because of his fragile, but extremely beautiful sister-in-law, Helena, and the Trojan War she caused. There is a reason why it is called the femme fatale archetype, which causes a lot of trouble for herself and her surroundings.

The great Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, died at the hands of his frail wife

The daughter of the king of Sparta, Clytemnestra, together with her beloved husband Tantalus, enjoyed the birth of their long-awaited son. One day Agamemnon, ruler of a great city 150 km away, came to the palace. King Tyndareus decided to welcome such a noble guest personally, but he had already been stabbed to death at the gate. Considering no one, and having no mercy for anyone, Agamemnon went straight to the princess's bedroom. He killed Tantalus and the baby by hitting his head against the floor. Clytemnestra was taken to distant and unknown Mycenae. The young woman never fell in love with her new husband. The latter did nothing to gain her favor, although it must be admitted that, as a lawful wife, he made her queen. They had four children together; Electra, Iphigenia, Orestes, and Chrysothemis. Elektra was reportedly a female copy of her father, her long red curls and love of martial arts made her the beloved daughter of Agamemnon. Iphigenia, on the other hand, was similar to and most attached to her mother. Unfortunately, the king of Mycenae just wanted to make it as a pleading offering. He wanted to set out to conquer the legendary Troy. Unfavorable winds prevented him from leaving the port. Poor Iphigenia was saved from death by the goddess Artemis herself. Clytemnestra realized that she had to kill her hated husband.

The Trojan War lasted 10 years. At that time, Clytemnestra made a new life for herself, with Aegisthus.

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