March 26, 2011

0 Greece: Mikines/Mycenae/Mikenai

We wanted to see several sites outside of Athens, but after reviewing everything we wanted to see IN Athens we decided to just take one excursion out of the city.  After discussing Delphi, Aegina, or Mycenae, we decided on Mycenae.  Those of you familiar with Homer's Iliad will know that this was King Agamemnon's fortress.  What you might not know is that it was excavated virtually untouched (other than by natural decay) in the late 19th century.  This meant that all of the treasures buried with the royalty, including the gold masks, were still there for archaeologists to study, which is fairly amazing.  The artifacts are mostly in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, which we went to later, but seeing the site was quite interesting.

After getting from our hotel to the Athens bus terminal (a tricky and involved but doable process) we took the bus to Mycenae.  Our bus continued on to Nafplio, a much more popular destination (see later post) so we were the only ones to disembark at Mycenae.  Or what we thought was Mycenae.  We actually got out in a small village two over from the ruins, and "enjoyed" a walk to the ruins- the lady we asked said it was 3 kilometers, and I'm a lousy estimator of distance, but that was way longer than 3 kilometers.  It was also blaring sun, around 24°C (80ish° F), which for our English-acclimated selves was HOT!  We made it, though, unblistered (yay for good shoes!), although we both felt a little smelly that evening... sorry to our busmates!

We first arrived at the Treasury of Atreus.

The beehive ceiling reminded both of us of Maes Howe in Orkney.

We then walked a short way further and saw the Acropolis at Mycenae.

The lions of Lion Gate.

The famous Lion Gate, uncovered in 1841.  

Grave circle A.  One of two grave circles that still contained the vast treasures when unearthed in 1874.

Remains of dwellings.

North Gate of the prehistoric wall.

The current views across Argolida from the Mycenaean Acropolis.  See any olive trees??

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