Mystras: Legends and history
The cinematic scenery will make you think you are the starring at a Medieval Hollywood movie, but you are not. Mystras is a ruined Byzantine fortress, just 5 km from Sparta, which dominates on the slopes of Taygetos and overlooks from above the Laconian city and Evrotas valley. A cultural asset of UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1989, this legendary castle city built high up on the green hill will introduce you to history, whispering to your ear the secrets of the Cantacuzino and the Palaeologus families in every step. If you listen carefully, you might hear them, but even if you don’t, you will definitely feel the vibes of history all around.
The history of Mystras dates back to the 13th century until 1953. The well-preserved Byzantine churches, palaces, mansions, castle and bridges in the fortified settlement are the proofs of the prosperity the city saw during the times of the Byzantium, where Constantine Palaeologus was crowned last Byzantine emperor. Since then, Mystras was conquered by Turks and Venetians and was one of the first places in Greece that was liberated in 1821.
From the southern entrance of the castle, you will have the chance to admire the Metropolis Cathedral, the monastery of Pantanassa, and pay a visit to the Museum of Mystras.
Get lost in a labyrinth of stone-built alleys and head to the entrance of the upper side of Mystras, the Castle Gate. Admire Hagia Sophia in the palace district that was founded in 1365 as a Catholic great monastery by the first despot of Mystras, ManouilCantacouzenos. From here, you will start climbing to the top, the acropolis of the Frankish castle of Villeardouni, which passed into the hands of the Byzantines in 1259. The enchanting green landscape that will accompany you on your way up, as well as the magnificent view from the top will undoubtedly compensate your efforts.