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Mystras, the byzantine castletown

How to go
Route: Athens - Mystras Route map. From Athens to Mystras. The kilometrical distance and time needed.
Route: Sparta - MystrasRoute map. From Sparta to Mystras. The kilometrical distance and time needed.
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Magnificent and impressive , distant and yet so close . Real time , the state still lies on the slopes of the steep strange hill with the castle on top.

Just 5 km northwest of Sparta time has stopped , but in the golden pages of history.

Mystras the " theofrouritos country Myzithras " the base of the Despotate of Peloponnese , the last cradle of Byzantine Empire , still lives in the historical memory and consciousness of people.

The visit at Mystras, transports the visitor to another dimension,
in the era of the Byzantine Empire.

With the fortifications and churches palaces, mansions and houses , in the streets and fountains of causes daily amazement to thousands of visitors , but also provides valuable insight on the development and culture of Byzantium . Two centuries on the stage of history , he composed a unique path of glory , splendor and supply - political social and cultural .

 The starting point in the 13th century when the Franks dominated the Peloponnese. In 1249 Villehardouin II built an impregnable castle on the hilltop with Mystras name or Mizithras .

Ten years later he was captured the emperor of Byzantium Michael Paleologos , bought his freedom, giving the castles of Mistras Monemvasia and Mani . Mystras offered security , resulting in the residents of the neighboring Lacedaemon , as then called Sparta , build their houses on the slopes around the castle .

The settlement Chora, protected by a wall , but the new houses were built from the outside. Another wall protected the new district , Lower Town . With the generals permanent commanders since 1308 and the seat of Metropolis has been transported from Lacedaemon , Mystras became in the 13th century capital of the Peloponnese , the seat of the Despotate of Morea with Annuity Lord

First Master 1348 Manuel second son of Emperor John Kantakouzenos and second Matthew in 1380. Then came the time of Paleologos, with the despot Theodore I, son of Emperor John Palaeologus and his successors Theodore II in 1407 and Constantine Paleologos in 1443.

All these years, Mystras experienced glory despite external risks. The dominance was spread almost throughout the Peloponnese and became a center of political and intellectual life field to regenerate the letters and arts. Here founding the famous philosophical school of the Gemistus Pletho. On January 6 January 1449 the Metropolis of Mystras, Agios Dimitrios, Constantinos Paleologos was crowned emperor and left for Istanbul, for death and glory in the fall of 1453. But Mystras fell ingloriously.

The new Bishop Dimitrios surrendered without a fight the impregnable castle in Mehmed II. During the Turkish rule, the city was still flourishing, with 42,000 inhabitants. After the failure of the uprising of 1770 were 8,000. Poor but courageous and Mystras offered the War of 1821, but in 1825 the Egyptians Ibrahim burned down the town

The residents started leaving . Others settled lower in New Mystras. And others returned to the banks of the Eurotas to create the new Sparta. In the Byzantine state abandonment gave way to wear and tear

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Today Mystras, closes inside the walls of the four abandoned settlements with great post-Byzantine churches, houses and palaces. Since 1989 by decision of Unesco, Mystras is registered as a cultural object in the list of World Cultural Heritage.

 Mystras with its medieval castle, the Frankish citadel and four fortified settlements closing in the walls of houses and palaces and is famous for its late Byzantine monuments, monasteries and churches with great frescoes, which scattered the archaeological site.On The most important are the church of Hagia Sophia in Pano country, the Cathedral of St. Demetrius , the Saints Theodore and Hodegetria , the Lower Country and finally the prestigious churches of Evangelistria and the monastery of Pantanassa Messochora .

The so-called Outside Country of Mistras at the foot of the hill , are today little of architecture , dating back to 15th after

 When wandering one in the districts of Mystras Castle, in Messochora and Exo Chora, he thinks he is in a setting fairy tale: Byzantine princes, noblemen and desposynes with their sequence to emerge from the rich mansions, foreign delegations heading for the palace to submit their respects to the ruler of the state, the people flock to the streets, an image dreamy Risen from the Byzantine past.

Besides, Mystras was for two centuries the capital of the Despotate last glimpse of the Byzantine Empire.


What to visit

The Byzantine Museum of Mystras is housed in the metropolis , Agios Dimitrios. The exhibits include paintings , photographs , inscriptions and sculptures from the archaeological site of the dead city .

A walk to the impressive museum, two-storey stone building of 1754 , completes in the best surfing in one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the world , the castle of Mystras .


The most important monuments in the region are:

  • Fortifications: The Frankish castle with battlements and towers are the work of William II Villehardouin. Walls: arranged in two strong fortified precincts fortified by tall square towers.

  • Metropolis or Agios Dimitrios: mixed architectural style church, ie. Aisled basilica on the ground floor vestibule and bell tower and the cruciform floor.

  • Church of St. Theodore: work of Daniel monks and Pachomios, octagonal type, with side chapels, built between 1290 and 1295, with frescoes of the late 13th century.

  • Odigitria: work Pachomios abbot, in 1310, the mixed architectural type. Outstanding frescoes of the period 1312-1322.

  • Hagia Sophia: cruciform church with a dome, built in the mid 14th c., with chapels and bell tower.

  • Peribleptos monastery: the church is a cruciform church with a dome. The temple murals are excellent different artists of the third quarter of the 14th century.

  • Evaggelistria : cruciform church with a dome with frescoes dating back to the beginning of the 15th century.

  • Monastery Pantanassa: Exceptional frescoes on the first floor and in the sanctuary, dating around 1430, while those on the ground floor to the 18th century.

  • Palaces of despots of Mistra ( Kantakouzenos - Paleologus ): Large building complex -shaped with different use buildings , built at different times ( 13th-15th century).                                                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                                                                              Source : Prefecture of Lakonia

For your stay in Laconia, you can book a room in one of the hotels and Bed & Breakfast inns.
In Elafonisos, as well as in many other areas of the island, there are hotels and accommodations of various categories and types (rooms to let, residences, Bed & Breakfast inns, studios, hostels, guesthouses and furnished apartments) that can satisfy every visitor's demands and needs for a pleasant and enjoyable stay.
You will find wonderful hotels, rooms and apartments to let of all categories and price ranges.

The access to the area is easy by car via the existing road network.
Regular schedule services are linking the capital of the prefecture to Thessaloniki, Athens, Kalamata, Patras, Tripoli and other major cities of the around prefectures.
The route Athens - Sparta takes about three hours, and Tripoli - Sparta 1 hour.
Kalamata to Sparta in 1.30 hours
Corinth to Sparta in 1.30 hours
For more information contact the KTEL bus of Laconia.

By ferryboat:
Ferry connection from Githeio to Kythira - Antikythira - Crete, from Neapoli to Kythira.

KTEL Bus of Laconia, tel: (+30) 27310.26.441
Port of Gytheio, tel: (+30) 27330.22.262
Port of Kythira, tel: (+30) 27360.34.222

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For your convenience, you can use the route map on the field “"Routes"” with information about the mileage, the time you need and the route you will follow, selecting the points of interest.


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