Peek into an historic civilisation

Photo of Steve McKenna

Steve McKenna is spellbound by the treasures of ancient Greece

Smaller than the shire of Shark Bay and just as sunbaked, Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula is brimming with possibilities for travellers with wanderlust.

You can meander through the maze-like old quarters of charming coastal towns, order ice-cool beers and grilled seafood platters at beach-side tavernas, hike through rugged, myth-rich mountains or indulge your inner history buff amid the evocative relics of legendary ancient civilisations.

We’re doing the latter today, delving into the fascinating past — and imposing present — of Mycenae, a former citadel set between two hills in the Arcadian mountains, about 40km south of the Corinth canal, which divides the Peloponnese from the rest of the Greek mainland.

Along with the nearby ruined city of Tiryns, Mycenae is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the one-time hub of a Bronze Age civilisation that dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century BC.

Among the rulers of this realm was King Agamemnon, who led the Greek army in the Trojan war depicted in Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

As we climb up towards Mycenae’s limestone ruins, we marvel at the incredible masonry, entering via the Lion Gate, a carved portal capped with the sculpture of two lions (or lionesses).

The gate pierces through the formidable Cyclopean walls — so-called, apparently, because the ancient Greeks believed that only the mythical Cyclopes had the strength to move the enormous boulders.

Read the full story here.

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