Mycenae & Tiryns (Peloponnese - Greece)

As I mentioned in the last post, during our WithLocals private tour our initial stops were at Mount Lycabettus and Corinth Canal for a few moments to click a few pictures and our first prime stop was Mycenae aka Mykines.To begin with, what the rest of the world mentions as Greek Civilization, it is actually split into several and one of the Greek Civilizations is Mycenaen Civilization of Late Bronze Age which originated here. The Greek poet Homer has sung about this place in his poems as the richest centre. Well guarded on 2 sides by huge mountains, its located in a valley. Mycenae has been in occupation since 7000BCE (New Stone Age!), however whatever we see today, primarily belongs to 1350-1200BCE (Late Bronze Age). Soon after you enter, you're welcomed by 2 mighty lions, carved atop the gateway, and its aptly called Lion's Gate. The entire fortification wall is called the Cyclopean walls, because, every brick is so big that 'it must have been the giant cyclops who built them'!!! I mean, look at the size of the monolithic lions and the brick under its base.....Soon after you go through this entrance, to your right is the granary, followed by the Grave Circle A. It originally had 6 grave shafts filled with several valuables including arms & gold etc. This is because ancient Greeks (like ancient Egyptians & Harappans), believed in life after death and were buried with their belongings. From here is a slight upward path.Beyond these is what seems to be the different types of dwellings for the different occupations of people (which very much reminded me of Dholavira). The highest point of the citadel is the Palace, which is connected from the Lion's Gate by the Great Ramp! This was the headquarters of the Mycenaean rulers. Though it was a Palace in the Late Bronze age, this site was never deserted after it and settlements continued and during 700-300BCE, Temples were built in this site.Walking downwards on the other side, there is an underground cistern! This was built to safeguard the palace during sieges!!! The corbelled roof of the descent to the cistern is a work of art!!! I mean, think of it, the sheer size of each stone and the way its built, not today but 3000yrs ago......The exit from this fortification is through the North Gate made of 4 cyclopean blocks, just like Lion's Gate but doesn't have any design on them. The passage however continues till the site museum. The visit to the archaeological site isn't complete without visiting the museum. Most of what has been recovered from here, are now housed in the site museum including pottery, fresco fragments, jewelry, sculptures, seals with script etc.Half a km down the road, is the Treasury of Atreus or Tomb of Agamemnon built in 1350-1250 CE. The look of it is just fascinating in various aspects. One, the sheer size of it - its huge with a conical corbel roof. Two, its setting - its set along the slopes of the hill and is meant to be covered by soil and the whole structure is supposed to look like a part of the hill, submerged into the hill! There are many tombs all over Greece that are in this style and several that are yet to be discovered. This one however, was never covered with soil and was open throughout. Even by 200CE was found open and pillaged! The heavily decorated frontage of the tomb is currently in British Museum, London and National Archaeological Museum, AthensOur next stop was Tiryns. Unlike Mycenea, Tiryns is still in its very early stages of excavation and research. So many structures that have a clarity of what it was (like in Mycenae), isn't there in Tiryns.Tiryns is slightly older than Mycenae and its present structure has been in existence since 2500-2000 BCE. The fortifications were built only 1400 CE. Unlike Mycenae, most of the fortifications of Tiryns in almost in the same plane. There is the ruins of the Palace right at the centre and beyond it is a series of steps that lead to a dirt path, outside the fortification walls. The size of the whole fortification is monumental, but the sites are yet to be labelled and explained, of its original use. Just like Mycenae, here too the Cyclopean walls are present. Can you spot Atyudarini in the above pic???The thing about Mycenae & Tiryns is - its 4000yr old humongous buildings which have fallen into ruins over time. So what you see is mostly fallen structures. Currently Greek Govt., is under the process of rebuilding the structures to bring it back to its original glory, like how you now see the Parthenon of Athens! Ofcourse it costs a lot of money for the material, experts, labour etc, so everything cannot be done at the same time. While Athens Acropolis is almost done, currently Epidaurus is being restored. It is easier in those places to see how it would have been in its heydays. However that's yet to happen in Mycenae, Tiryns, Delphi etc. Most of what you see in these sites is ruins...Here's a tip: It is NOT wheelchair or stroller friendly! Here's another tip: Keep the ticket of Mycenae safe as it gets checked once again at Agamemnon Tomb entrance.Entry Tickets & Timings:Mycenae: €12 (€6 in winter)Tiryns: €4 (€2 in winter); Timings (for both): 8:30AM to 3:30PM (winters); 8:00AM to 8:00PM (spring & summer); 8:00AM to 6-7:30PM (autumn)To Get There:On Google Maps: Mycenae, Tomb of Agamemnon, TirynsFrom Athens: Several tour operators have private or group tours to Mycenae (along with Epidaurus & Nafplio). However Tiryns is generally not included in group tours. Customized private tours could be the option. I took the Private tour of Peloponnese by WithLocals with this awesome guy Vassilis (€15 discount code) to finish it all in one dayPublic transport (ktel buses) is available but not direct or frequent. You need to take a bus from Athens to Isthumus (Corinth) and find another bus to Mykinos (Mycenae). Then head to Nafplio and get another bus/taxi to Tiryns. However with so many connections, doing it all in one day is impossible. A choice would be to visit Mycenae for a day and head to Epidaurus or Nafplio by evening and stay there and do Tiryns & Epidaurus for the next day... and may be head towards Pyrgos for Ancient Olympia for next day!!! This would be apt if you're solo or all-adult back-packing.

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