In the heart of Peloponnese, just one and a half hours from Athens, lie the ruins of what was once the capital of a military power that dominated a large part of Greece and an important cultural center influencing the wider Mediterranean region. Mycenae, after which a whole historical era was named, was the military base and homeland of Mycenean Kings. One was immortalized in Homer’s Iliad: the mythical Agamemnon was the all-powerful king who united Greeks leading them in the famous 10-year Trojan War. In the third part of our trilogy of trips we will visit his homeland and walk among the ruins of his once dominant capital.

The splendor of his kingdom is still evident in Mycenae, a castle-palace perched on the top of a Peloponnese hill. From this acropolis the mighty kings could see miles away, inspect their rich provinces and foresee any enemy assaults. What is particularly striking even for the modern visitor, apart from the breath-taking view of the Peloponnese countryside, is the enormity of the structure. People actually came to believe that the huge brick walls were built by the mythic Cyclops, giants of super-human dimensions and strength. It is still hard to believe that people managed to build such a majestic palace with so limited means. This only serves to further underline the ingenuity of the Mycenaeans, who rose to power in Greece rather quickly and retained it for centuries, on the strength of their reputation for being ferocious fighters.

Albeit somewhat violent, the Myceneans were a religious people, respectful of their King as a mediator between them and the Gods. He was revered and respected by all even after his death. Fortunately for history, Myceneans took special care when burying their kings, laying them to rest in tombs full of funereal offerings and gifts to ease their passage to the next world. Most of the tombs and mausoleums were buried deep in the bosom of Peloponnese land, safely hidden from plunderers in search of Mycenean gold, waiting for Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations to wake them from two millenia of dormancy bringing them to light for all to see and marvel at.