When giants played with stones

Who are we to say that some huge superhuman species didn’t roam the earth in 1500 BC? Homer thought so 700 years later, which is how he explained the construction of the Mycenaean fortress of Tiryns, very near to our town of Nafplio.

The massive walls of Tiryns have stood for over 3,000 years, and they seem likely to be here for a while longer. With views to the sea and clear sight lines to all the surrounding country, the builders of this fort were ready for what might come.

One of the most stunning sights here was a gallery with a roof and window openings. The Mycenaeans didn’t have the arch, but what they were able to do with rocks to create vaults was amazing. Hard to see, but the rocks here seem to shine, thanks to centuries of shepherds sheltering their flocks here, whose lanolin-coated wool coated the stones. This space was magical.

Here, as in Mycenae, there is a large Megaron where the king entertained and received guests. The circular hearth stones are still in place.

Steps led us down to the servants and workers’ quarters. The staircase itself was so artistic, you wondered how those giants wrapped their huge fingers around the tiny stones.

And speaking of tiny stones, we are told that, at one point, the sea was much closer than it is now – which is at least a mile away. Proof came in the form of tiny sea shells we found all over the base of the fortress. How old must they be? (We stole them.)

Our next stop was the nearby city of Argos, once a great Greek city-state. Unfortunately for its future, Argos stayed neutral in both the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War, which caused its inhabitants to be shunned for generations.

Today, it looks like an average small town with a busy marketplace, that just happens to be built on top of a Greek powerhouse. What is still visible are the remains of the agora – the classical era marketplace –  that also incorporates some Mycenaean relics, such as the sacred hearth shown by those stone shafts with holes.

And then there is the awe-inspiring 3rd century BC theater, which seated 20,000 people. It’s always fun to spot where the elite got to sit, and to see the fancy Roman brickwork showing how they ‘improved’ on the Greeks.

The museum here is unfortunately closed for renovation, so we left for home without seeing it. By the way, our mode of transportation throughout Greece has been the very reliable and very comfortable public buses, in case that wasn’t obvious.

While the minor stops are often only marked by oral tradition, the drivers are very accommodating and pleasant. Some of them seem to have permanent dibs on their routes, and personalize their buses, often with stuffed toys around the windshield. And some, like our driver today, take this tradition just a bit too far.

Don’s Food Corner

For our last meal in this beautiful town, we decided to go back to the restaurant where we had such a good experience yesterday. Unfortunately, we got a different waiter and the experience wasn’t as perfect. The food was fine, but the added attention was missing. Odd how these little things can make all the difference.

We started with a feta-wrapped-in-filo that was deep fried and drizzled with honey. Hot and great.

Jo had a different version of schnitzel, of course. Instead of a creamy mushroom sauce, this one came with ham and melted cheese on top. Not as exciting as the mushroom sauce, but she managed. It came with the nice rice dish we had last night.

I had a whole grilled sea bream fish. I was able to filet it perfectly and it was grilled to perfection. A true bargain at $12. It came with a large portion of steamed spinach.

A couple of Greek beers rounded out the meal.

I wish we had more time to sample some of the other appealing restaurants in this town. But you can only eat so many meals. Right?

2 thoughts on “When giants played with stones

  1. Well, you said it :awe inspiring, all of this.
    There’s a monumental grandeur to these places.
    You must be very happy to have seen them

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