By Lakshmi: (Updated Sept 24, 2014)
Who? If you are visiting Athens, Greece, are a fan of Homer’s ballads or simply love archeology, you will love a day trip that takes you back in time.
What? The ruins of the ancient citadel of Mycenae which are located about two hours from Athens (give or take some time, depending on the infamous traffic).
How? You could rent a car, take a guided tour or take public buses. We took a guided tour on two separate trips and were blessed with the most amazing guides who built our anticipation, transported us back in time and helped us soak in the place better.
Why? It was Homer’s ballads brought home on CD’s that served as my voice of reason and sanity as I survived some long commutes between Princeton and Washington DC. Like the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata that I had devoured at a young age, the Odyssey and Iliad were Greek versions of good and bad, war and peace and so much more. Like many a reader, I had quilted a rich patchwork of images of Agamemnon, Helen, Menelaus, Paris, Cylopes and more and these were brought to life by the stories that our tour guide narrated en route to Mycenae. Our arrival at Mycenae was heralded with the guide announcing the discovery of the ruins in the tone of Schlieman, “I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon.”
To be very honest, I felt a bit let down when I first lay sight on the ruins. You will need every part of your imagination and a good guide to envision the citadel that existed here in prehistoric times….the many tales of treachery that were cooked here, the bloodshed that happened, the richness of the history, the bloody way in which Agamemnon met his end at the hands of his wife and her lover, and the many graves that once housed the remains of a civilization from a world gone by. Our guide did a fantastic job showing us the layout of the palace complex, the graves and the few well-preserved landmarks including Atreus tomb, the Cyclopean Walls and the Gate of Lionesses.
Unlike other ruins that we have seen elsewhere in Greece, Italy, Egypt and other locales, Mycenae is a worthwhile visit if only to use your imagination to bring one of our most beloved stories to life.
To learn more about Mycenae and its ruins that have now been classified it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, click here: