Mystras is a destination where you begin with the intention to go visit, and do not just visit among other attractions and tourist destinations.
Our adventure will begin early morning on Sunday, December 7th from Athens, towards Sparta. Will be transferred by coach to the upper gate of the Byzantine castle, known as “The Castle Gate”, where we will enter the area and will have the opportunity to hike, each at their own pace, up to the lower entrance (the main entrance, at the foot of the rock) and visit all the sights of abandoned castle town. It is estimated that this will take about four hours since the visit to the fortress city is an enjoyable hike by itself.
We will start the hike, wandering the streets of Byzantine history, beginning from the Acropolis – a Frankish Castle which was built in 1249. It is at least a ten-minute climb up the paved walls of the castle which crowns the hill of Mystra. The route with the stone path that meanders among lush vegetation and the magnificent views from the hilltop to the valley of Sparta above will compensate you .
The buildings of the Byzantine castle, remarkably preserved Byzantine churches in their majority, and palaces, houses, bridges and castle, tell the story of a city that has experienced great prosperity as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of Morea, enriched by trade with East and West and crowned king the last emperor, Constantine Palaeologus. Three times conquered by Turks, Venetians and Turks again since 1460, it is one of the first places in Greece that were released in 1821. The space is impressive, tagged with signs that analyze the order of castle town, inspirations, religious operations, battles, trade and close ties with Constantinople. It has plenty of walking to be done on stone streets, through history and natural beauty images emerging from the ruins of a bygone era.
After the visit to the Byzantine castle, we will dine in Mystras village square, have coffee and have the opportunity to wander around the picturesque village, before returning to Athens at 22:00 the same day.
Mystras, the UNESCO heritage site of the famous Byzantine Fortress City of the Peloponnese is located six kilometers northwest of Sparta. Called the ‘wonder of the Morea’, was built as an amphitheater around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape.
Today it is in ruins, although some have been restored buildings, such as palaces. It is a valuable source for knowledge of history, art and culture of the last two centuries of Byzantium. The story of today’s “the dead city”, Mystras, begins from the mid-13th century, when the city was completed the conquest of Peloponnesus by the Franks.
In 1249, William II Villehardouin built the castle on the east side of Mount Taygetos, on top of a hill with a sharp and conical form, called Mystras or Myzythras for its shape or on behalf of the owner of an older named Mizithras. “Hill weird he found, cut out from a mountain. Castle he made majestic and he named it Mi(zi)thras.
The location of Mystras, a physical and strategic stronghold of the Byzantine Myzithras hill, north of Mount Taygetos, consists of the medieval castle and the fortified settlement that closes within its walls monasteries, churches, chapels, houses and palaces, ranging from mid-13th century to 1953. The restoration work carried out in recent decades by the Archaeological Service, bring out gradually the glory of the past.