At a distance of 96 km., aprox. 80 minute drive from Monemvasia, one can visit the ancient Byzantine city of Mystras, awarded as a UNESCO archaeological world heritage site, Mystras stands on a hill side at aprox. 6 km out of modern day Sparta and at a height of just over 600 mts.
What was once a center of both political, commercial and cultural importance during the Byzantine era of the Mediterranean; Mystras now stands much like a ghost town, echoing an illustrious past that imbues each visitor with an aura of ancient times in the midst of majestic buildings.The fortress was built during the mid-1200 and changed hands from one conqueror to the next over the centuries; those being the Franks, the Byzantines, Turks and Venetian rulers. From the late 1600 A.D. on, Mystras became a hub for the silk industry and relating trade, upon which it depended heavily. The castle city itself is divided into two parts, the lower ‘chora’ and the upper ‘chora’ or town. Meandering through the stoned paved pathways, you are stopped in your tracks by the imposing vision of the cathedral that is dedicated to St. Sophia not to mention the Papal Palace, the monastery of ‘Pantanassas’ built in 1428 as well as the holy convent of ‘Theo Doron’ (The Grace of God), the holy church of ‘Panagia tis Odigitrias’ (Holy Mother of Guidance), to mention but a few. Records show that the city was finally abandoned in 1832 after much devastation from invaders.
At the very summit of this imposing stone built city you will be granted a stunning view over the farm lands speckled with olive trees and orange groves whilst, the backdrop of the Taygetos mountain range watches over this monumental city of extraordinary historical importance, not only to the people of Sparta and to Greeks as a whole, but to peoples well beyond its’ borders.