Ancient Corinth & Mycenae
A day immersed in ancient history and the gorgeous Peloppones countryside.
A NOTE ABOUT DRIVING TIMES
A fair amount of driving, about 3.5 hours in total, but most of it is very scenic. Piraeus-Corinth, 75 min. Corinth-Mycenae, 45 min. Mycenae-Piraeus, 90 min.
About an hour after leaving port we’ll stop briefly at Corinth canal for a little modern wonder before our journey into the past. At Ancient Corinth you’ll get a glimpse into the wealthy and important place Corinth was in its glory days, followed by a scenic drive through the countryside to the ruins of the prehistoric civilization at Mycenae, where our immersion in distant eras will be complete.
The Corinth canal, 4 miles long with an almost sheer drop of about 200 feet, is a seemingly impossible work of engineering and labor. Even though the canal was accomplished in the late 19th century, the idea of creating a short cut between the Ionian and Aegean seas goes back to the 7th century B.C. In those times there was much superstition surrounding the endeavor, and most everyone who considered taking up the task ended up dead before they could begin, including Julius Caesar. We’ll stop here just briefly to get some photos.
You’ll want to keep your camera handy as we travel on, because the landscape in this part of Greece is very beautiful. In fact, all of the Pelopponese peninsula is renowned for its natural beauty.
As you walk among the ruins at Ancient Corinth you’ll get a sense of the expansiveness of the once-glorious civilization. Due to its fertile soil and strategic position Ancient Corinth enjoyed great affluence and power long before the rise of Rome, which we can still see in the remains of the majestic temple of Apollo. After laying Corinth to waste in the 2nd century B.C. the Romans decided to revived it, and Corinth flourished again as a Roman colony. The area has been systematically excavated by the American School of Classical Studies since 1896. The cool thing about these ruins, besides the fact that they are set in such a gorgeous spot, is that you can really walk among them and touch the ancient stones.
At Mycenae the amazement continues. Looking at the remains of this prehistoric palatial complex you will be truly impressed by what human beings were able to accomplish more than 3000 years ago (and by how old stuff is in Greece). The Mycenian civilization was one of the greatest of Greek prehistoric times, dominating from 1600-1100 BC. The kingdom of mythical Agamemnon must have been pretty legendary, as it was the setting of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, written many centuries after the society’s collapse.
We’ll stop for brief look at one of the “beehive” tombs. These burial chambers were for royalty or important officials, and as you walk the entrance pathway with massive but finely cut stones rising on either side of you, you will immediately know you’re about to enter a monumental space. This famous tomb dates back to the 13th century BC and belonged to King Atreus, Agamemnon’s father. More formally referred to as the Treasury of Atreus, many gold articles were found during excavations in this tomb and others at the citadel of Mycenae, including the intriguing Mask of Atreus.
The first Bronze Age society on the European mainland, the Myceneans lived throughout the Pelopponese and across the Aegean in palatial complexes surround by fortification walls. Mycenae, the capital, was situated on top of a hill with a view all the way to the sea. As you pass under the Lion’s Gate you will get a sense of the mightiness of this society that quickly and mysteriously disappeared around the 11th century BC.
DURATION: 9 hours
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