The powerful city of Mycenae was the heart of the Mycenaean civilisation that dominated Ancient Greece between 1600BC and 1100BC. Said to have been founded by Perseus himself, Mycenae was the centre of many Greek myths and legends.
The bronze age city of Mycenae is located in the Peloponnese region of Greece. It rose to power after the collapse of the Minoan civilisation (which was based out of Crete), and then dominated the Ancient Greek world for over 500 years between 1600BC and 1100BC.
The Mycenaean civilisation then suffered a disaster of its own, which was followed by a 200 year period known as the Greek dark ages. During this time, the origins and history of Mycenae began to be mixed with myth and legend. Here, we take a look at some of the most common myths and legends connected with this outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The founding of Mycenae
According to Greek Mythology, Mycenae was founded by legendary hero Perseus. As a son of the Greek God Zeus and Danae, Perseus was a demigod, performing large than life deeds. Some of his feats included slaying a sea monster sent by Poseidon, freeing Andromeda, and killing the Medusa.
He is of course also the inspiration behind the popular Percy Jackson books and films. If you are a fan of both Percy Jackson and Greek Mythology, you should definitely take our Mycenae day trip from Nafplion!
The walls of Mycenae were built by the Cyclops
When you visit Mycenae today, you will be instantly impressed by the huge walls which surround the citadel. It seems incredible that blocks of stone of this size could have been moved by men alone nearly 3000 years ago. Even the ancient Greeks of Homer’s era couldn’t believe it, and they said that they must have been constructed by the Cyclops – Huge giants with only one eye in the centre of their foreheads!
The walls of Mycenae were over 10 metres high in some places, and it is estimated that the largest block weighs over 120 tonnes. When visiting Mycenae, most people admire the fabulous Lion’s Gate, but save some of your fascination for those huge blocks of stone. How would you go about taking them up the hill and setting them in place?
Mycenae and Hercules
The last King from the line of Perseus, was Eurystheus. According to mythology, he was described as a King of Mycenae, but may actually have lived in the city of Tiryns. (Mycenae and Tiryns are jointly a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Painted in a bad light by the Hercules myth, it was Eurystheus who was tasked with assigning Hercules the 12 labours.
Each of these labours was more difficult than the last, but each one Hercules accomplished successfully. When you visit Mycenae and look at the landscape all around, it certainly feels as though you are in Hercules country!
King Agamemnon lived here
After the eventual death of Eurystheus and his sons, a new King was installed at Mycenae. This king was known as King Atreus who was the father of Agamemnon. (One of the sections in the Mycenae complex is known as the Treasury of Atreus). Agamemnon would later become King himself, and is most well known for his role in the war against Troy.
The Trojan war started after Helen was kidnapped by Paris, a Trojan Prince. Helen was recognised as the most beautiful woman in Greece, but she was also the wife of King Menelaus. As you can imagine, the King was enraged that his wife had been kidnapped, and urged his brother Agamemnon to help get him back. Together, they assembled the best soldiers and heroes from Greece, along with a huge fleet of ships.They set sail for Troy, where they laid siege.
At Greek Mythology Tours, we offer two ways to see Mycenae. The first, is as a day tour from Nafplion. This is ideal for anyone who is planning their own trip around Greece, but would like to take advantage of our one of a kind guided tour of both ancient Mycenae and Nafplion. The second, is as part of our Greek Mythology Tour packages.
During our 3, 5, and 7 day Percy Jackson inspired tours of Greece, you will have the chance to visit the major historical sites in Greece that are both associated with Greek Mythology and also connected with the Percy Jackson books. Our expert guides will lead the way, creating a memorable experience and providing insights into ancient Greece that your normal group tours simply can’t provide. Interested in finding out more? Contact the Greek Mythology Tours team today, and we would be delighted to share with you more information about our Mythological tour packages.