Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mycenae

(Finally)

Mycenae is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Greek history of the site dates to around 1600 BC, but it's probably been around a lot longer.
The site itself is not as nice as Delphi, but it is worth the trip. I'll show you why further down.
This is the Lion Gate. It is famous and well-preserved, and stuff.
Behind Phil is a big tour group of Greek high school kids.
We were all cold. It was a cold day.

Mycenae is an old citadel and military stronghold on top of a hill. Because of this, it's called an acropolis.
It's not the Acropolis, but it is an acropolis. Phil taught me this, when I was trying to figure out why some Spanish tourists in the Peloponnese were asking me where they could find the acropolis. At first I was like, "Get back in your car, and drive for an hour and a half into Athens," but then I was like, "Go climb that hill."
The views are gorgeous.

In the summertime, this hill is probably crawling with tourists. We came on a very cold, wintery day, so there were not many people around. It's really nice, because you can climb on old castle walls, and no one yells at you. We felt a little bit like Justin Bieber with his recent Mayan ruins escapades in Mexico, except we didn't pull our pants down and moon anyone. We're not that juvenile. The size of these rocks is really impressive. It's hard to imagine how anyone would have been able to haul them up the hill. The Greeks explained it by saying they had been built by cyclopes.

In Greek mythology, Mycenae is the site of King Agamemnon's castle. I was not aware that King Agamemnon was mythological. There is so much biblical history here, tied up with so much Greek mythology, and wrapped in factually corroborated records, that it's hard to know historicity from allegory. Also, I guess I just don't read enough. King Agamemnon was involved in all sorts of adventures, and featured prominently in the Iliad by Homer. The ending of his story is what I like to focus on, though. He came home and caught his wife with a lover. They murdered him in his room. His son sought vengeance for Agamemnon's death, and killed his mother, the queen, before fleeing the city through the back gate. 

Is this the back gate through which Agamemnon's son fled? I don't know. I really don't. I had a hard time following the map. I don't think it was, but it is a cool example of some of the earliest arches in building design. I'm not sure if you can see my winter style very well. It's absolutely atrocious. I was embarrassed to be seen with me, but I was also pretty comfortable.

Okay, this right here is why it's worth it to go to Mycenae. This is an old underground cistern that is tremendously well-preserved. You can actually walk down the stairs into the depths. You can't go all the way, but you can go far enough that you feel like your 8 euros was well spent. I also want to point out that even though it looks like Phil went down first, this is actually a photograph on the way out. I went first, and I terrified myself. 

This is why I terrified myself. These are the stairs leading further down into the cistern that are blocked off, so you can't actually use them. They're pitch black. This is what they look like with flash photography. I walked down the cistern steps while Phil stayed at the top to take some pictures. I made it all the way up to the rope blocking off these stairs. It was dark and earthy smelling. I stood there, peering into the blackness, when I heard a noise coming from these stairs! It sounded like someone kicking a small rock on the steps. I freaked out and ran back to Phil. He had to walk down first after that, and I made him leave last. 

Somewhere on the staircase down to the haunted cistern.

On the way out of the haunted cistern.

This is the last photo I took in Mycenae, but there are some videos that go along with it. I'll put those in a separate post, because we all know my track record with uploading videos. This photo is from inside a tomb. This is Agamemnon's wife's tomb, so who knows who it actually belonged to at the time. For this burial, they dug a giant, circular pit in the ground, then built a beehive structure over the top of it. The tomb was found during some routine looting by the local villagers sometime around the late 1800s or early 1900s. You'll have to fact check me on those dates, because I can't remember. They dug it out, and realized how cool it was. They probably still pulled a lot of neat crap from the inside of it, but at least they left the structure. It was really impressive, and is the second reason it's worth it to go see Mycenae. Agamemnon has a big one, too, just down the road from the citadel. The acoustics inside the tombs are amazing. This is looking up toward the ceiling.


Mycenae: Worth the trip, because it has a haunted cistern, and tomb acoustics.The museum also has some nice things, including a mask of Agamemnon's mythological face.

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