What to Do in Sparta, Greece
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People around the world are captivated by the history and legends surrounding Sparta, the military powerhouse of Ancient Greece. The adjectives “spartan” and “laconic” were inspired by the prominent city-state. The modern day region of Sparta is known for its rich scenery and historical destinations to visit. Located in southeastern Peloponnese, its historical treasures are surrounded by picturesque mountains. Here’s a look at some things to do while here:
Built in 1873, this museum preserves Spartan history across many eras. Explore prehistoric fragments from around Arcadia and Laconia. A stele from the 6th century BC features Homeric heroes Menelaos and Helen of Troy on one side, Agamemnon and Clytemnestra on the other. Exquisite 7th century amphorae and religious mosaics shed light on ancient Greek society.
Perhaps the most famous collection displays pieces of the Temple of Artemis. This museum contains the actual building blocks of Spartan civilization–clay, ivory, stone–and the evidence of a vibrant spiritual culture.
It’s hard to overstate the significance of the olive to Mediterranean culture. Olive trees have flourished in Greece since prehistoric times. The Museum of Olive Oil in Laconia tells the story of an extraordinary fruit. On the ground floor, visitors learn about different methods of creating olive oil that evolved over the centuries. Further up, you discover the many roles of the olive in Greek life, from cuisine to hygiene to symbolic art. The museum was founded by Cultural Foundation of Piraeus Bank Group.
The scenic town of Sparti is nestled in the mountains of eastern Peloponnese. As the capital of Laconia, it has attractive buildings, parks, and other areas for tourists to peruse. Unlike many towns in Greece, Sparti was designed by a plan. Its broad streets and city squares are ideal for an afternoon stroll. The town was built in the 1830s on the site of Sparta, the ancient city-state remembered for its dominant army. Visitors can see remnants of Sparta, like the monument of Leonidas, nearby.
For decades, Mystras was the height of Byzantine power in Greece. Height is the key word; this breathtaking archaeological site sits high on the slopes of Mt. Taygetos. The fortified town protects the Palace of the Despots, where a despot–a son of the current Byzantine emperor–once reigned. Mystras was a cultural and political hub that absorbed many influences. Its architecture stands as an example of the late Byzantine era. The churches are particularly magnificent. Further down the mountain, there is a village and hiking trails.
You may have seen the movies, but there’s a lot you don’t know about Sparta. The trail of Spartan art and artifacts leads all the way back to prehistory. But you don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate Sparta. These four unforgettable museums and locations can capture anyone’s interest. From steam-powered olive oil presses to frescoed churches, Sparta is full of wonders.
This post was written by Greek Boston