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|MIYTRAS AND THE ANCIENT SITE OF SPARTA ON THE PELOPONNESE PENINSULA IN GREECE|
Mystras or Mistras is a fortified town not far from the site of ancient Sparta. Since 2011 it belongs to the municipality of Sparti. In 1249 the Frankish crusader William II Villehardouin, the prince of Achaia, built a fortress here on a 634 meter high outcrop of the Taygetos mountain. Because after that people started to settle at the foot of the mountain in the hope of protection of the castle lord, a town arose here. Ten years later, however, the crusader was captured by the Byzantines, and after his surrender he had to give up his belongings, including the peninsula of Morea (as it was called then).
Mystras expanded rapidly and in its heyday there were 42,000 people living here. Morea was a Despotate, meaning an area governed by a Byzantine governor (despot). As a rule, a despot was a brother or a son of the reigning emperor. Mystras served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of Morea in the 14th and 15th century and between 1350 to 1460 it was the residence of the despot. Despots adorned the city with many buildings such as churches, monasteries and palaces and made Mystras into a center of culture.
In 1460 Mystras fell into the hands of the Turks, in 1687 it came into the hands of the Venetians and between 1715 and 1825 the city was again occupied by the Turks. In 1770, commissioned by the Turks, Mystras was burned and completely destroyed by Albanian crowds. In 1832 the city was abandoned in its entirety and what was left was a Byzantine ghost town with beautiful medieval ruins in a pretty landscape. The inhabitants moved to the new town of Sparta, which lies eight kilometers east of Mystras, and which was built on instruction by King Otto I.
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Sparta was the capital of Laconia in ancient Greece and for many centuries one of the most important and powerful city-states of the country. The city arose in the 10th century BC when four Doric villages joined forces and settled in the valley of the Eurotas river, hereby expelling and enslaving the original inhabitants. Remarkable was that Sparta unlike other city-states had no real acropolis and no walls to protect themselves. The residents had to be wary of outside attacks at all times.
Between the eighth and the fifth century BC the population of Sparta increased dramatically and they conquered territories in the area, first Lakonia, after that Messinia and then eventually most of the Peloponnese. The Peloponnesian confederation at the end of the 6th century, made Sparta the most powerful military state of in Greece. Friction with Athens led to the Peloponnesian War. At the end of this war, in 405 BC, Sparta was the main power in Greece both on land and at sea. At the Battle of Leuktra against the Persians in 371 BC Sparta lost half of his troops and also it lost Messinia. Thebes was now the main Greek state. Eventually it was the father of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king Philipus, who brought the Greek city-states under his authority.
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|Mazaraki Guesthouse - Mistras, Peloponnese - very good reviews|
Guesthouse Mazaraki is situated close to the picturesque village of Mystras, offering eastern views of the Byzantine castle of Mystras and the city of Sparta, or western views of Mount Taygetos. Mazaraki Guesthouse consists of 3 independent buildings, offering double rooms and suites either with one or two bedrooms. Flat screen TV sets and free Wi-Fi are included. Most offer a furnished living room with fireplace. Free wood for the fireplace may be delivered, as well as DVD's and information on local fine cuisine or nightlife can be provided.
A range of fine wines are available at the guesthouse's cellar. Mountain bikes and organized visits to the olive mills and fields of the area can also be arranged. It is located at an altitude of 600m., in a wooded area with an abundance of mountain springs and streams. Guesthouse Mazaraki is only 4 km from Mystras, 9 km from Sparta and 1 km from the Byzantine Castle.
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|Byzantion Hotel - Mistras, Peloponnese|
Hotel Byzantion is located down the road to the Byzantine town of Mistras, a 5-minute walk from the Archaeological Site. It features rooms with spectacular views of ancient Mistras and Mount Taygetos. The well appointed rooms have balconies with views of the plains of Laconia. Each air-conditioned room is fully equipped with a minibar, internet access and satellite TV.
Surrounded by lush vegetation and well-kept gardens, the Byzantion Hotel offers a swimming pool. Guests can have drinks and coffee at the elegant bar. The Hotel Byzantion serves as an ideal base for those who enjoy nature. There are picturesque paths all around the area. Bicycles are available for rent at the reception. Free private parking is possible on site.
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