Mystras is a fortified town in Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece. It is located on the slopes of Taygetos Mountain. The archaeological site sits above the modern village of Mystras and city of Sparta. The area is surrounded by the greenery of cypresses and pine trees. There are some small lakes and rivers in the area.
After the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusades13th century, the town of Mystras was founded. The Franks dominated the area known today as the Peloponnese. Prince William II Villehardouin built a fortress on top of Mystras Mountain. In 1259, he was captured on the battlefield by a Byzantine emperor that set him free in exchange for the castles of Mystras and Monemvasia. Mystras would then become a Byzantine area and would be influenced with Byzantine art and architecture. From then on, Mystras would become an important military area and residents of surrounding areas built homes of the slopes of Mystras for the security it offered.
Mystras would go through a number of rulers throughout the centuries. In 1687, the Venetians conquered the area, but the Turks would regain it. The residents made efforts to free their city from Turkish rule, but were unsuccessful. In 1825, the Albanian Turks slaughtered the population of Mystras and ruined the area. It would form part of the first Greek state a few years later and be set free. King Otto founded a new city called Sparta just 9 km away in 1831. This would lead to the decline and abandonment of Mystras. Many families moved to Sparta and some moved to New Mystras, which was built in the countryside. The old town of Mystras would begin to be appreciated as an important Greek archaeological site during the 1950s and in 1989, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Administrative Region for Mystras, Greece
Area of Mystras, Greece
131.9 km2 (50.9 sq mi)
Population of Mystras, Greece
Top Attractions in Mystras, Greece
Church of Panagia Hodegetria – Located at the ancient site. This church was built in 1310. The inside is decorated with wall paintings that depict the wedding in Kana and other scenes from the bible.
Palace of Despots – This palace dominates the Upper Town of Mystras. Construction was started by the Franks and completed by the Byzantines. The palace consists of different buildings, some 4-storeys tall. The Despot lived in the fourth building, which dates around 1350 – 1400 AD.
Cathedral of Agios Demetrios -This church dates back to 1292 AD. The three-aisled basilica features a bell tower and wall paintings. The last Byzantine emperor, Constantinos Paleologos was crowned here in 1449.
Church of Agioi Theodoroi – Built in the 13th century, this church is the oldest and largest in Mystras. It was originally the katholikon of a monastery and then became a cemetery church.
Archaeological Museum of Mystras – This museum focuses on Byzantine exhibits. There are small objects discovered in the archaeological site of Mystras. Other items showcased are portable icons, miniature art, coins, and Orthodox shrines.
Cavern of Keadas – Located in Trypi. This is a steep ravine situated on the eastern side of Mount Taygetos at 750 meters. Standing at the entrance of the cave, you will feel a cool breeze.