by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
June 23, 2003
Tiryns is associated with legendary strong man Herakles (aka Hercules). Some scholars believe he was born here and then moved away. It was also King Eurystheus of Tiryns who gave Hercules his 12 labors as penance for killing his own children.
Even more so than Mycenae, the building of Tiryns is connected to the Cyclops. Parts of the walls here are 20 meters thick and it was felt that no one but those one eyed giants, possessed of super human strength would have been able to lift the rocks. Currently Tiryns is under refurbishment and much of the site, including stairways, cisterns and the whole northern section was roped off and access forbidden. Although that was disappointing, just walking up the entrance ramp amid the remainder of giant stone walls gave me a sense of the magnitude of the place. The ramp was built on an angle that left the right side (normally the unshielded and unguarded side) of any invading force open to attack from those inside the fortress.
Once at the citadel, the foundations of the great palace which was built over 3,000 years ago can be clearly seen. During excavations the base of a throne was discovered and is now housed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The view from the top looks over fertile fields but in ancient times the sea was much closer and control of the port helped make Tiryns a very wealthy and powerful city.
Tiryns also has a secondary site where the Tholos is located. The ticket seller said it was 1 km. down the a back road so off I went. The walk along the quiet country road was enjoyable - past groves of orange trees with big ripe fruit and the scent of oranges perfuming the air. One km became two before I finally found a sign for the Tholos. Then it was at least another km down the road, past an old farm house where a farmer was loading his sheep into a pick up truck. Easter was only a few days away and I have a feeling those sheep were destined to be someone’s Easter feast.
Finally I found another sign and a dirt path through an orange grove that eventually led to the Tholos. Although it was quite plain the location was so peaceful with the drone of honey bees and the smell of oranges that I felt the walk had been worthwhile.
The entrance to Tiryns is just off the main Nafplio - Argos road, about 3 km. outside of Nafplio. Admission is 3 euro and the site is open daily. Tiryns is interesting but if you are pressed for time, I’d recommend Mycenae and/or Epidauros instead.
From journal Greek History 101