A big old blood-drenched rock

Some families attract misfortune like a magnetic force. Pity, then, the House of Atreus whose bad luck, questionable personalities and plain old murderousness wasted lives for generations. Remember that speech from Gladiator, ‘father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife – and I will have my vengeance’? That. Times a hundred.

There’s no room here to list all of the murder, divine retribution, child sacrifice, macho pride, adultery, cannibalism, and ‘eye for an eye’-ing. If you want the gory details, click here.

The deeply impressive fortress at Mycenae may or may not have been the backdrop to much of this bloodshed. Perched in the dip between two mountains, high up above Nafplio and Argos, it commands an impressive view. No one is sneaking up on anyone here.

Huge stones, metres wide, make up walls that are still standing over two thousand years later. For centuries, no one could imagine how they were moved and lifted into place, so the construction was credited to the Cyclops. Even now, the walls are described as ‘cyclopean’.

The bus drops us in a hot and dusty car park. No chance of beating the tour groups when you’re wedded to Greek transport schedules. All we can do is grin and bear it.

Actually, it’s not so bad. Despite encounters with incredibly loud Chinese cruise passengers, path hogging French students and Greek tourists in search of the ultimate selfie, we managed to climb the citadel, ooh and aaah at the view and take the little used path back.

We have 40 minutes until our bus home. Just time to walk down the hill to the supposed-but-probably-not Tomb of Agamemnon.

A passageway slices into the side of the hill, flanked by more impressive wall-ery and a huge gated arch. Inside, the beehive shaped brickwork (no mortar, just good joins) curves inward above our heads. We are impressed, but we have to get our bus.

We leg it up the hill in time to board and surf our way back down the mountain on a wave of mythical blood.