Exploring Mystras

Mystras – once a Byzantine medieval town with several ten thousand inhabitants – was not only an interesting historic sight but also a hike up the mountains.

From Sparta we had already seen Mystras in the distance, situated on a hill in front of the Taígettos mountains.

At the Acropolis of Sparta
Fortress of Mystras on top of that mountain overthere
Same point of view in 1982 made by our friend Peter

The history of the mountain fortress Mystras begins with the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) after which the crusaders conquered the Peloponnese and the French Villehardouin became Prince of Achaia, which was a very powerful principality. In 1249 the capital was moved to Mystras, near ancient Sparta.

In 1259 Prince William II was taken prisoner by troops of the Byzantine Emperor and was only able to buy his freedom by issuing Mystras and other castles. The Greek inhabitants of Sparta, who were tired of the foreign rule of the crusaders, now settled in Mystras. Below the castle was a flourishing city, which eventually numbered several tens of thousands. Mystras became the cultural centre of the region.

In 1460 Mystras had to be handed over to the Ottomans. In 1770, during a Russian-Turkish war, the city’s splendour began to diminish. When it was raided, Mystra’s heyday was finally over. During the Greek struggle for freedom, the city was so destroyed that it wasn’t reconstructed afterwards. Instead Sparta, which had been abandoned centuries before, was rebuilt again.

Agios Dimitrios, the Mitropolis of Mystras
Inner courtyard
Frescos from the 13th and 14th century
View up to the palace
New Testament, written in the area between the 13th and 15th century
Hiking from church to church
Panagía Odigítria
Agía Sofía
Walking further and further up the hill
View down to Agios Dimitrios

There is one monastery which is still a nunnery, the Pandanássa Monastery, which was built from 1430 onwards.

Great view from the Pandanássa Monastery
Reaching the palace …
… which is still under renovation
Nice mosaic floor
The path is getting renovated too

The palace from above
Same point of view in 1982 made by our friend Peter
On top of Mystras
Edi found a friend
Great view to Sparta
Agios Dimitrios
Flower of the Day
Flower 2 of the Day

After our day in Mystras, we crossed the mountains another time back to Kalamata, where we spent the night at a parking next to the beach (37.024677, 22.100171).

Sunset near Kalamata

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