Lion's Gate

“Mycenae Kingdom was already inhabited in the 5th Millennium BC, but its true greatness came during the Late Bronze Age (1400-1200) when it was a strong military and economical power. Because of its’ outstanding position, it was to name the whole civilization in Greece of this time”

The Mycenae Archaeological Site is an eerie place where a curse once laid – tormenting a royal family with a cruel destiny. Fascinating place of The Mycenae Archaeological Site allows you to walk through the famous Lion’s Gate and see the Tomb of King Agamemnon and become part of the history. It is not hard to imagine the drama that once took place here. Myth and history intertwine, leaving only the ruins as a memory… Mycenae Archaeological Site was once a mighty kingdom of Ancient Greece, and its ruler, Agamemnon, was rather considered one of the greatest of them all. When Helen, his brothers Menelaos beautiful wife, was abducted by the Trojan prince Paris, the history of Greece was consequently about to come into one of the most famous phases: The Trojan War.

But there were many events that precede the above. The founder of the Mycenaean Kingdom was the war hero Perseus. When his last descendant, King Eurystheus died, the people voted for Atreus to be their new King. Atreuse’s brother, Thyestes, seduced his wife. Atreus took his revenge by killing Thyeste’s two sons and then serving them to their father. Filled with rage and disgust, Thyestes cursed Atreus and his children. Great unhappiness was to haunt them thereafter.

Atreus two sons were Agamemnon and Menelaus. Agamemnon, who was the oldest, inherited the Kingdom of Mycenae. Menelaus became king of Sparta. They married two sisters, Clytemnestra and Helen. Everything seemed like a happily ever after. However this was not to last.

The Trojan prince Paris was called to decide who of the three Goddesses Hera, Athena or Aphrodite was the most beautiful. They each tried to bribe him. Aphrodite had promised him the most beautiful woman in Greece. Paris chose her and Helen was his prize. With the help of the goddess, Helen went to Troy with Paris, leaving the outrages Menelaus to declare war on the Trojans. He asked his brother for help, and as a result together they raised an army of Greek kings and heroes. When Agamemnon was about to leave, he had left Clytemnestra with a singer. His beautiful songs were to prevent her from falling in love with any other man. She was already very upset with her husband, since he had sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis. Then Aegisthus arrived.

Aegisthus was the son of Thyestes after the incestuous rape of his own daughter Pelopia. He had killed his uncle Atreus and finally ruled Mycenae Kingdom with Thyestes for some time. When Thyestes died, the throne was taken by Agamemnon. Full with hate against Agamemnon he decided to do everything in his power to seize the throne. Once the king had to leave for the Trojan War, he finally saw his chance.

At first, Clytemnestra resisted him, but when Aegisthus realized the reason the singer was there, he took him away. The couple then ruled Mycenae Kingdom in the king’s absence, and as soon as Agamemnon returned, they murdered him. Agamemnon’s son Orestes took revenge for his fathers’ murder by killing his mother and her lover as a result. After a long time of persecution by the Furies he was finally clear of the crime.

Orestes then married Menelaus and Helen’s daughter Hermione, and so the kingdom of Mycenae and Sparta were united. After some time Heracles’ descendants came and overthrew the king, and so the cycle was complete.

Heinrich Schliemann first excavated Mycenae Archaeological Site in 1874. The German amateur archaeologist had also discovered the Ruins of Troy. There is evidence that Mycenae Archaeological Site was already inhabited in the 5th Millennium BC, but its true greatness came during the Late Bronze Age (1400-1200) when it was a strong due to military and economical power.

It was then that the  famous Lions’ Gate was built, new buildings were built and old ones were renovated. A magnificent palace was constructed, and then the kingdom now the Mycenae Archaeological Site was surrounded by great walls. The Treasury of Atreus or Tomb of King Agamemnon was also built, a grave chamber shaped as a dome. The city was crowned with an acropolis even before the Mycenaean Civilization. The location of the site was very strategic also.

In the surroundings there were many buildings from the ancient city: houses, bakeries, workshops, a granary etc. There was also an extensive plumbing system that provided Mycenae Kingdom with fresh drinking water.

Even though the archaeological evidence speaks against that, the famous Golden Mask of Agamemnon actually belonged to the famous King. It is also one of the most famous findings of the ancient world. It is displayed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens City, along with several other objects from the excavations in Mycenae Archaeological Site. Several of the tombs in Mycenae Archaeological Site have also been named after the family of Atreus. There is Agamemnon’s tomb, the tomb of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus’ tomb at the so called Grave Cycle B.

The fire almost completely destroyed the Mycenae Kingdom in the 12th century. Mycenaean Civilization declined, but the area was still inhabited. It is believed that it was abandoned in the 3rd century AD.

Museum of Mycenae Archaeological Site is full of important artifacts (from the 16th to the 11th centuries B.C.) from the Citade. Surrounding area reflects the history and prosperity of Mycenae Kingdom from the earliest times to the Hellenistic period. Separate sections deal with each of the principal excavated areas. One part of the gallery is devoted to a display illustrating aspects of everyday live and craftsmanship in different materials. The finds of gold and other precious items from the two Shaft Graves on the territory of Mycenae Archaeological Site, however, remain in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens City. Among thousands of objects on display at the Museum of Mycenae Archaeological Site, is the fine ivory lion found beside the altar in the Room with the Fresco.

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