We enter the citadel of Mycenae through the famous Lion Gate, the first monumental sculpture in Europe (13th century BC).
Immediately we come to Grave Circle A, a royal cemetery in which Schliemann found six shaft graves, 19 skeletons, and the incredibly rich burial furnishings which made his discovery one of the great archaeological finds of all time.
A ramp and stairs lead up from the grave circle to the palace on the top of the hill; unfortunately little remains of the palace except for a Great Court and a megaron (a room with central hearth and inner columns).
From the top of the hill, with its view commanding the valley all the way down to Argos and Nafplion, we can follow a path down the back of the site to the Postern Gate and the Secret Cistern, a pitch-dark tunnel leading down some 80 steps through the solid rock.
We can then return to the Lion Gate around the north side of the hill.
Outside the city walls, just south of the site entrance. are an earlier royal grave circle (Circle B, discovered in 1952) and two “tholos” tombs which we can visit. Around 1500 BC the royal families here and at other Mycenean sites changed their burial style from shaft graves to tholos tombs, enormous circular rooms with domed roofs as high as 17 metres.
The tholos closest to Grave Circle B was excavated by Mrs. Schliemann and is called the Tomb of Klytemnestra; it is one of the latest and most finely-constructed of the tholoi.
The other, called the Tomb of Aigisthos. is much earlier and its roof has collapsed.
Returning down the modern road about a half mile we come to the most famous tholos, the Tomb of Agamemnon; the half-columns which decorated its doorway are in the Mycenean Room of the National Museum.