The canal from the bridge was such a different experience from being on board the ship. In my trip with Columbia University Alumni we were on a small boat, but from the top deck it almost seemed that if your arms were just a foot or so longer you could touch the walls. Exhilarating and a bit spooky. Begun by Emperor Nero the work stopped because the workers had to go to fight a war. In 1872 the Greek government hired the French firm that built the Panama Canal, but that work could not go forward due to lack of funding. In 1893 the current canal was completed and the Greeks had their passage through the Isthmus shortening shipping between east and west.
We stopped at the canal as a hallway point between Athens and Mycenae. The stop also allowed use of the WC. The coffee shop with the toilets had the usual tourist trash and the array of snacks both unappealing and unappetizing.
We visited Mycenae in our bus tour in 1981. I remembered the Lion Gate, but only vaguely the beehive tomb of Agamemnon’s father Atrius, which was very impressive, especially because of it structure. Atrius’ tomb is outside the walls of Mycenae and was built inside an existing hill. The exterior lintel is one of the largest in this period and points to a relationship with Eygpt from which culture the Greeks picked up techniques to carve and move immense rocks.
From the interior the extent of lintel is plain including a crack (more than one would be expected in such an earthquake area) as well as the relief triangle above the lintel. The shape of the beehive gives the space the effect of a whisper on one sided of the curve to be clearly heard directly across. The fact that no one was speaking means that feature is now getting use by the tourist guides.
The Lion Gate entrance to the walled city of Mycenae is the oldest sculpture in Europe remaining in place. The elongated and abstracted lions once had heads – probably gold and missing in modern times. Since Greece had no gold at this time, this is another feature of the relationship of Egypt and Greece. Greece was paid in gold for its help in fighting enemies from the east.