Mystras, Sparta


(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Mystras or Mistras, also known in the Chronicle of the Morea as Myzithras (Μυζηθρᾶς), is a fortified town and a former municipality in Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece. Situated on Mt. Taygetos, near ancient Sparta, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea in the 14th and 15th centuries, experiencing a period of prosperity and cultural flowering during the Palaeologan Renaissance, including the teachings of Gemistos Plethon. The city also attracted artists and architects of the highest quality. The site remained inhabited throughout the Ottoman period, when Western travellers mistook it for ancient Sparta. In the 1830s, it was abandoned and the new town of Sparti was built, approximately eight kilometres to the east. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the Sparti municipality.


Foundation and Frankish rule

In late 1248, William II of Villehardouin, ruler of the Frankish Principality of Achaea, captured Monemvasia, the last remaining Byzantine outpost on the Morea. This success was soon followed by the submission of the restive Tsakones on Mount Parnon, the Slavic Melingoi tribe of Mount Taygetos, and the inhabitants of the Mani peninsula, thereby extending his sway over all of Laconia and completing the conquest of the peninsula, which had begun in 1205, in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade. Laconia was incorporated into the princely domain, and the young prince passed the winter of 1248–49 there, touring the country and selecting sites for new fortifications such as Grand Magne and Leuktron, finally near his residence of Lacedaemon (ancient Sparta), on a spur of Mount Taygetos, he built the fortress that came to be known as Mystras.

Ottoman and Venetian years

The last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, was despot at Mystras before he came to the throne. Demetrios Palaiologos, the last despot of Morea, surrendered the city to Sultan Mehmed II in 30 May 1460. Under Ottoman rule it became part of the Sanjak of Mezistre. The Venetians occupied it from 1687 to 1715, but otherwise the Ottomans held it until 1821. The city joined the Orlov revolt in 1770. It was looted by Ottoman Albanians and the metropolitan bishop Ananias executed, despite having saved several Albanian lives in the uprising. A great number of local Greeks were also killed by the Albanian groups, while several children were sold into slavery. Mystras was left in ruins and this event was a significant factor leading up to its abandonment.

Byzantine restoration

In September 1259, William of Villehardouin was defeated and captured, along with many of his nobles, at the Battle of Pelagonia, by the forces of the Nicaean emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. Two years later, the Nicaeans recaptured Constantinople, putting an end to the Latin Empire and restoring the Byzantine Empire. At this point, the emperor concluded an agreement with the captive prince: William and his men would be set free in exchange for an oath of fealty, and for the cession of Monemvasia, Grand Magne, and Mystras. The handover was effected in 1262, and henceforth Mystras was the seat of the governor of the Byzantine territories in the Morea. Initially this governor (kephale) was changed every year, but after 1308 they started being appointed for longer terms. Almost immediately on his return to the Morea, William of Villehardouin renounced his oath to the emperor, and warfare broke out between Byzantines and Franks. The first Byzantine attempts to subdue the Principality of Achaea were beaten back in the battles of Prinitsa and Makryplagi, but the Byzantines were firmly ensconced in Laconia. Warfare became endemic, and the Byzantines slowly pushed the Franks back. The insecurity engendered by the raids and counter-raids caused the inhabitants of Lacedaemon to abandon their exposed city and settle at Mystras, in a new town built under the shadow of the fortress.

While Mystras served as the provincial capital from this time, it became a royal capital in 1349 CE, when the first despot was appointed to rule over the Morea. The Byzantine Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos, reorganized the territory in 1349 to establish it as an appanage for his son, the Despot Manuel Kantakouzenos. From 1349 until its surrender to the Ottoman Turks on 31 May 1460, Mystras was the residence of a Despot who ruled over the Byzantine Morea, known as the "Despotate of the Morea". For the larger portion of his reign, Manuel maintained peaceful relations with his Latin neighbors and secured a long period of prosperity for the area. Greco-Latin cooperation included an alliance to contain the raids of the Ottoman Sultan Murad I into Morea in the 1360s. The rival Palaiologos dynasty seized the Morea after Manuel's death in 1380, with Theodore I Palaiologos becoming despot in 1383. Theodore ruled until 1407, consolidating Byzantine rule and coming to terms with his more powerful neighbours—particularly the expansionist Ottoman Empire, whose suzerainty he recognised.

Modern years

The final straw to Mystras came in 1823 during the Greek war of Independence when Egyptians under the rule of Ibrahim massacred the local population and destroyed the local area. The town was rebuilt 9 km away under the name Sparti in 1831. Most families moved to Sparti, but a few decided to move instead to New Mystras, a small village in the countryside. This process of relocation was completed in 1953 when the remaining properties were confiscated by the municipality. In 1989 the ruins, including the fortress, palace, churches, and monasteries, were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features a museum and the partially restored ruins of the city. The only inhabitants today are a group of nuns who reside in the Pantanassa Monastery. The majority of the most important churches are still standing, including St. Demetrios, Hagia Sophia, St. George, and the Monastery of Peribleptos. The Palace of the Despots has undergone substantial restorations in the past decade, making it a significant attraction. Visitors can reach the ruins via the modern city of Sparti, which is only a few miles from Mystras.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

How to get to Mystras, Sparta from Athens international airport, El. Venizelos:

 With the bus X93 (price €5,5 a person) to bus station K.T.E.L. KIFISOS for more information click here,
then take the intercity bus to SPATA (price €19,50 a person) for more information click here.


Have someone wait for you with a sign with your name on it,
help you with your luggage and take you exactly where you want.
Book a TAXI or Minivan with CATTaxi from €210,00 the vehicle.


Was a prominent city-state in Laconia, in ancient Greece. In antiquity, the city-state was known as Lacedaemon, while the name Sparta referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece.

Given its military pre-eminence, Sparta was recognized as the leading force of the unified Greek military during the Greco-Persian Wars, in rivalry with the rising naval power of Athens. Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War (between 431 and 404 BC), from which it emerged victorious after the Battle of Aegospotami. The decisive Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC ended the Spartan hegemony, although the city-state maintained its political independence until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. After the division of the Roman Empire, Sparta underwent a long period of decline, especially in the Middle Ages, when many of its citizens moved to Mystras. Modern Sparta is the capital of the southern Greek region of Laconia and a center for processing citrus and olives.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Archaeological Museum of Mystras 

Mystras Camera Museum

Archaeological Museum of Sparta

Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil

Highlights / Must do:

Archaeological site of Mistras

Acropolis of Sparta

The tomb of Leonidas

The “House of Mosaics”

Local Tastes:

Taverna Ellinas

Our restaurant serves traditional Greek cuisine of the highest quality. Our kitchen is equipped with the latest equipment while we use local products to prepare all of our recipes. The key ingredient of almost every single recipe is our olive oil.

Chromata Restaurant

Located in Pikoulianika, in a local traditional stone built home, enjoying marvellous veiws of the entire Byzantine estate, Chromata was re-designed by the distinguished theatrical scenographer Eva Nathena.






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