During my cruise -which started in Malaga and ended in Athens- we made stops at Menorca, Malta, near Olympia, at Chania and at Nafplio. And as you can see, it is the only spot on my cruise I don't have a blog about yet! After all that blogging about the amazingness of The Netherlands, I thought it was time to share this final bit of my cruise.
It was the last stop before we would have to finally leave the boat in Athens. In the below screenshot you can see what the distance between Nafplio and the capital of Greece is. You can easily do a day trip from Athens to visit this area, but the boat decided to stop here. Since it was too large for the dock, we were transferred with small boats to the shore where the tour bus was waiting for us to show us around. We were off to see the Theatre of Epidaurus and the archaeological site of Mycenae.
Screenshot of my Google Maps timeline of that day
The ancient Theatre of Epidaurus
We arrived at the ancient theatre and my jaw just dropped. This theatre was huge! Larger than I had seen before. And so well preserved! Was it fake? Was it old, really? And soon I learned it was, in fact, the best preserved ancient theatre in the world. And it was busy!....
Just earlier busloads of schoolkids were dropped off at the theatre. And they didn't care about the acoustics demos that other guides gave. All they wanted to do was sit down, be as loud as possible and eat something while they waited for their teacher to collect them for the next "boring" site to visit. At some point, they left and we could finally hear the amazing acoustics that this theatre has. You could hear the slightest cough all the way up the highest seats!
The construction of this theatre started around the 4th century BC and was all build following some mathematical guidelines. I don't know if the builders following the Golden ratio gives this theatre the feel of perfection, but to me, it was almost like it was out of this world. I have seen a few greek/roman theatres before, but nothing like this!
Too bad I always get a slight case of wobbly knees when I have to walk down those huge stone structures with stair steps that are not comfortable. But I soon discovered that there was a backdoor to the seats of the theatre. Just behind the seats, you could follow a path down the hill that also had some stairs here and there, but were much more comfortable (and less crowded).
I don't know if these stairs are as ancient as the rest. I am inclined to believe they are not. They might also have been added recently to support the many people that gather here for the annual Epidaurus Festival. Something that I just put on my bucket list for another time...
The archaeological site of Mycenae
Next stop: Mycenae!
For this one, we're going further back in time. If you are familiar with some old Greek mythology, you might have heard about Mycenae in relations to the Trojan war. It was the city of King Agamemnon, leader of the Achaeans. Short story: They settled in the Peloponnese, build a few cities and became filthy rich.
A few impressive treasures have been found here later, one of them called the Mask of Agamemnon. It is questionable if it was really his mask, but it looks good. I was only able to see the replica of it, though.
We were first invited into the Treasury of Atreus. It is a large beehive-shaped tomb that important people would be buried in (with their treasures). Although this tomb was named after King Agamemnon, it was built far before his ruling and is located a bit further from the Acropolis of Mycenae.
I didn't mind, really. It was super impressive and nice and cool (I could use that...). The stone above the door is the largest in the world of that sort. From the outside, you would never know how huge the tomb was on the inside. I always find it hard to imagine how this would have been used back in the days. Would this also have been the place of the burial? Would everyone bring in treasures to accompany the dead? Were there flowers? Were family members buried here too? If you were sick, would you already go to the tomb to die in peace? When would they start building the tomb anyway? #somanyquestions
A pic of a different tomb without a roof to give you an idea of the size of it all
After the visit of the tomb, we went to the Acropolis. We passed the remains of ancient settlements outside of the walls of the Acropolis. That was where the lower class would have lived. The first thing after the bus was parked was the museum. And I really didn't feel like it. Too many museums just showing the same stuff! Too much reading!
I left the museum and went to the Acropolis before the others would.
Just a bunch of stones now but once a powerful city
I ran into a situation that makes me instantly grumpy at the Lion Gate, which was the entrance to the citadel. Someone decided to go sit in the middle of a popular picture frame and was not about to move. I bet he was still sitting there after my walk around! Anyway...
The Lion Gate gets his name from the two lions above the main port to the citadel. This was constructed in the 13th century BC. The sculpture is quite unique. It was never buried underground and has still a visible motif after so many years. It's also the largest sculpture in the prehistoric Aegean.
After passing through the gate, you will find a circular tomb on your right hand. This was the grave where they found the golden mask. It was also a spot where six royal families where buried. It was still a bit of a climb to the top, so I continued.
The view from the summit was amazing. You could see why the king would have his palace there. You could easily oversee everything that was going on in the town around you. All that was left of the palace was the foundations, so not much to see there, unfortunately. I tried making a nice selfie here at the top, but I was so warm from climbing in the sun that I decided to not share the result with you 😎.
A sally port to leave the citadel
I walked around a little more in the backyard of the palace. There were much fewer tourists here and plenty of fun little things to see, like the above sally port. But unfortunately, my bus was ready to leave so I had to run to be back in time. I took the shortcut walking past the Northeast gate and was just in time to catch the bus.
Mycenae citadel from the sky (Google Maps)
I could have easily spend a couple of more hours in Mycenae. I was too much in a rush to be able to take it all in and visualise the history of this place. It was abandoned a couple of hundred years after they started building, but it has been one of the highlights of Greece that I have seen so far. This tastes moreish!
Also in this series:
- Somewhere in Europe #1: San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain
- Somewhere in Europe #2: Bilbao, Spain
- Somewhere in Europe #3: Algarve, Portugal
- Somewhere in Europe #4: Alghero, Sardinia, Italy
- Somewhere in Europe #5: Dresden, Germany
- Somewhere in Europe #6: Genoa, Italy
- Somewhere in Europe #7: El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain
- Somewhere in Europe #8: Lisbon, Portugal
- Somewhere in Europe #9: Helsinki, Finland
- Somewhere in Europe #10: Málaga, Spain
- Somewhere in Europe #11: Malta
- Somewhere in Europe #12: Chania, Crete, Greece
- Somewhere in Europe #13: Rethymno, Crete, Greece
- Somewhere in Europe #14: Menorca, Spain