Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Theme / Fortresses

Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns

Info Sections
Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns

About the site


Corridor: Western Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Greece, Argolis
Type: Ancient Site, Fortress
Epoch:
Theme: Fortresses
World Heritage: Cultural Heritage
FortressesAncient SiteFortressCultural Heritage

The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century BC and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. These two cities are indissolubly linked to the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, which have influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia.

UNESCO


Mycenae, the legendary home of the Atreides, is situated upon a small hill-top on the lower slopes of Euboea Mountain, between two of its peaks, on the road leading from the Argolic Gulf to the north (Corinth, Athens, etc.).
The site was inhabited since Neolithic times (about 4000 BC) but reached its peak during the Late Bronze Age (1350-1200 BC), giving its name to a civilization which spread throughout the Greek world. During that period, the acropolis was surrounded by massive "cyclopean" walls which were built in three stages (ca.1350, 1250 and 1225 BC) except on its SE flank where a steep ravine provided natural defense.
A palace was built on the summit of the hill while towards the Argolic plain lay the wall - painted ‘’Cult Center’’, the main gate or "Lion Gate" and ‘’Grave Circle A’’ which contained the treasures now displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. On the NE side, a tunnel leading to a subterranean fountain was built in "cyclopean" masonry in around 1225 BC.

On the edge of the Argolic gulf, at a short distance from Nauplion, the Acropolis of Tiryns rises impressively on a rocky hill (16 m).
The earliest human occupation on the hill goes back to the Neolithic period (about 5000 BC). It was followed by successive settlements but their remains have been destroyed almost completely by the extensive construction arrangement of the Mycenaean age. Enough evidence survived from the settlement of the Early Bronze Age (2500-2000 BC) to prove the existence then of a series of apsidal houses arranged around a very huge circular building (diam. 28 m) on the summit of the hill.
The building of the fortification of the hill began during the 14th century BC and was completed at the end of the 13th century (Late Helladic IIIB period). The Cyclopaean walls which surround the Upper, Middle and Lower Citadel, have a total perimeter of approximately 750 m and a width between 4,50 and 7 m.

Expert network


Read more about Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns at the Unesco World Heritage List.

Documents