Nafplion to Mycenae

4 h. tour (Private tour)

(transportation + local guidance in Mycenae citadel and the treasury of Atreus + free time)

You will be met by your driver at the port, where you will get off the tender boats. With your private vehicle you will depart from the beautiful city of Nafplion and you will be driven for about 30 minutes to the archaeological site of Mycenae passing through the lush valley of Argolis with its many olive groves, lemon and orange trees. On your way you will drive pass the Mycenean citadel of Tiryns and you will be impressed by its remaining cyclopean walls. Once upon a time there used to be a two story high palace of great importance on top of that hill. Continuing your drive you will also pass from the outside of one of the most ancient cities of Greece, dating back to 6000 BC, the city of Argos. Unfortunately almost nothing remains of it since the modern city was built on top, except for the ancient theater that was carved out of the rock of the Larissa hill. On the height of 300 meters(900 feet) lies the castle of Larissa or Argos, very well preserved and standing out from the distance.

Once in Mycenae you will be met by your officially licensed tour guide and you will board an approximately two hour private guided tour through the treasury house of Atreus and the ancient citadel.

The Mycenaeans were very strategic and were always choosing the places to build their citadels having always in mind the defensive advantage over the attacks by their enemies. Therefore Mycenae was built at the one side of the lush valley, where most of the inhabitants of it would be occupied with farming, with the very steep and rocky mountains on the other side. There was only one way to reach the citadel and that was extremely well fortified, even more than what they really needed. The cyclopean walls, consisted by huge conglomerate blocks of local stone, still make us wonder how they managed to move them all the way up there. Cannons, guns and similar weapons did not exist at the time, which makes us think that these walls were mostly there to scare off the enemy and to show off how wealthy and powerful they were.

You will first stop and visit the beehive tomb of Agamemnon, as most of the locals call it, although the official name of it is the treasure of Atreus. Very much influenced by the Egyptians, with whom they had a great connection and commerce going on, the ancient Mycenaeans gave very big importance to their funerary customs and to where the royal family's last residence would be. The beehive tombs were being built many years before the death of whoever was supposed to be buried in them, impressing the people and giving additional honor to the "owner" of the tomb. There were at least nine monumental beehive tombs around the Acropolis of Mycenae, but this one is the largest and most impressive, which at the same time is also very well preserved. Walk inside the tomb passing the ancient pass that was leading to its one and only entrance and enter the tomb that still stands intact. Once inside you will see another smaller gate leading to an extra room, which must have been the treasury house of it. If the assumptions of the archaeologists are correct and this was the tomb of Agamemnon, try to imagine the amount of gold and jewels that must have been placed there, in order for him to take with to the afterlife.

Afterwards you will get back to your private vehicle for a short drive up the hill. From the parking of the site you will start ascending towards the citadel, seeing parts of the ancient city and two more beehive tombs on one hand and the cyclopean walls on the other. Take a deep breath as you finally reach the legendary Lions' Gate, the one and only official entrance to the citadel that still bears the emblem over the gate that represents a column protected by two lions. See the marks of where the massive wooden gates and locks used to engage with the walls and enter. Walking a bit further uphill, you will have a magnificent view of the whole valley that ends by the port of Nafplion, the outside remainings of the ancient city, as well as the grave circle A which is inside the walls and was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann. Among the several skeletons on fetal position were found jewellery, seal stone rings and golden masks that were weighting 14 kilos in total. One of the masks was so different and impressive, that Schliemann yelled out that he had found Agamemnon's tomb, to be proved wrong when the treasury of Atreus was unearthed. This huge treasure from the grave circle A is now in display in the national archaeological museum of Athens.

At the end of your guided tour you will be given some free time to walk further up the citadel and reach the top, where the palace with two floors used to exist and for the more adventurous of you, you can even walk down the other side where the underground spring exists or to where the secret gate of the citadel was that only a few knew of its existence. Be prepared for a lot of hiking on steep rocks and to being exposed to the weather conditions since there are almost no trees inside the citadel today.

On your way down you can also make a small deviation and go visit the museum of Mycenae, which although it mostly has copies of the treasures that are displayed in Athens, it still is very interesting. Among other things you will see wall paintings(frescoes) from the palace and local houses, armor and weapons, a collection of pottery, jewellery made of seashells and non precious beads, as well as tablets that still bear the inscriptions of Linear B syllabic script.

As soon as you meet your driver back at the parking area, you will be offered the drive back to Nafplion and either you can get back to your ship, or if time allows it you can enjoy walking around the old city.

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