The haunting landscape of ancient Mycenae isn’t far from Nafplio, the castle-crowned harbour town that served as Greece’s first capital, so we’ll take you to both. After soaking up Mycenae’s ancient dark and tragic atmosphere, you’ll see a different side of Nafplio when you visit a range of active craftspeople, whose art dates back hundreds of years.
In a remarkably dramatic landscape in the northeast of the Peloponnese, the fabled Homeric city of Mycenae, A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the capital of one of the oldest civilizations in the world, stands covered in the dust of millennia.
Here, you’ll walk under the famed Lion Gate to enter ruins that are part history, part myth. Mycenae was home to the cursed House of Atreus, its members sentenced by the gods to suffer. And suffer they did. It was here (spoiler alert!) that King Agamemnon, hero of the Trojan War, was killed by his wife Clytemnestra. The Tomb of Agamemnon, an amazing structure more than three thousand years old, is where famed archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann uncovered the magnificent Mask of Agamemnon, a funeral mask made entirely of gold. There’s a museum here, too, with artefacts recovered from the immediate area. The whole site is moving, mysterious and incredibly old, even by Greek standards, and you’ll see it all and hear every story from your guide.
From Mycenae, you’ll head to Nafplio, with its towering fortifications. This low-key harbor town was in fact the first capital of the country. Its rich past and a great position on a wide bay has made it an important port for much of its history. You can see this in the medieval walls high on Palamidi Hill above the town and in the amazing fort that sits right in the middle of the harbour, but you can also see it in the 19th-century buildingsscattered around the town.
In Nafplio, you’ll explore the town’s defences and visit a variety of craftspeople, including a potter, a sandal-maker and a weaver, getting the chance to watch them at work and see what their crafts still have in common with the products of those ancient artisans whose work you will have seen earlier in the museum at Mycenae. As in the visit to that ancient site, this part of the tour involves a kind of time-travel because in many ways, the production methods you’ll be seeing in these studio spaces are closer to those practised in the time of Agamemnon than to those in contemporary automated manufacturing plants. You’ll see a number of other commercial ventures; a local distillery, a shop where pasta is made is made by hand the old-fashioned way, and a sweet-shop where the traditional almond sweets are still made the way they were generations ago.
Your visit to this historic town will also include a scrumptious lunch at one of Nafplio's trendiest hidden taverns, serving probably the best food in town.