Mycenae, Greece: The Tragic Kingdom

Mycenae, Greece offers hiking opportunities and a lesson in Greek mythology By: Skye Mayring
The Lion Gate leads to the Acropolis of Mycenae. // © 2013 Skye Mayring
The Lion Gate leads to the Acropolis of Mycenae. // © 2013 Skye Mayring

The Details

Greek National Tourism Organization

Greek tragedy is certainly not the optimist’s genre of choice, but those visiting Mycenae, Greece, will recall the story of King Agamemnon who, according to myth, once ruled the kingdom and met his tragic end there. Agamemnon and his family were destined for disaster, caught in a web of murder, incest and treachery — the tragic hero himself dying at the hands of his wife’s lover.

The ruins of Mycenae are located about a 30-minute drive from the port of Navplion in the province of Argolis. The journey highlights the region’s present-day beauty, with terracotta-roofed homes, citrus groves and olive trees stretching as far as the eye can see. Look upward at the surrounding mountain range to spot the silhouette of a bearded King Agamemnon lying on his back — he is said to be guarding his kingdom in the afterlife.

For about $11, travelers can climb a short hill to the Treasury of Atreus, also referred to as the Tomb of Agamemnon. The same ticket will give the holder entry into the Acropolis of Mycenae, the Museum of Mycenae and the archeological site of Tiryns, which was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. Despite seismic activity, the Bronze Age tomb remains intact. The sheer size of the structure and its precise masonry construction (no mortar or connecting material holds it together) are mind-boggling.

The active set should plan to hike around the Acropolis of Mycenae and its walls that, according to Greek myth, were built by Cyclopes. Most visitors can muster the energy to at least make it to the Lion Gate to admire its two imposing lion relief carvings and a coat of arms. Could the crest have belonged to the house of Agamemnon? We may never know but, if nothing else, it’s fun to play along.

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