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Your Guide To The Archaeological Site of Mystras, Greece
Mystras is an important UNESCO World Heritage Monument that used to be a remarkable Byzantine town back in the thirteenth century. The archaeological site, also known as Mistras, features interesting Byzantine Churches and an important Archaeological Museum. It can be a fantastic day trip from Sparta or exploring the breathtaking coast of the Peloponnese.
In this article, we bring all the details you need to know to visit the ancient sites and ruins in Mystras, Greece.
Where Is Mystras
Located on the slopes of the Taygetos Mountains, Mystras is an impressive archaeological site that stands above the modern village of Mystras and the city of Sparta on mainland Greece. Around the area, it is possible to enjoy incredible lush valleys and hills populated by dozens of pine trees. Around the area, some gorgeous streams and rivers make the panorama even more enchanting.
Mystras is located about 2.5 hours by car from Athens, and it is possible to get there by car or bus.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Mystras
There is no better time to visit Mystras as the place is fascinating all year round. Mild autumn and spring weather might make the visit more comfortable as many sites are not covered. Moreover, during the shoulder season, you won’t find as many visitors as in summer.
The place can also be visited in winter. However, it is important to remember that days are shorter during the cold season, so most archaeological sites in the country close their doors quite early, at around 3 pm.
Top Places To Visit In Mystras
There are more archaeological sites to see than you think in Mystras; let’s see them one by one to help you plan your itinerary when visiting the area.
This ancient site is located in the Upper Town of Mystra and features impressive views dominating the underlying valley of River Evrotas.
On this site, you will be astonished by the fantastic complex of buildings, all of them belonging to different historical eras.
The Franks probably built the oldest ones before the conquest of Mystras by the Byzantine Empire, but the Byzantines completed most of the buildings.
This palatial complex is one of the most remarkable examples of Byzantine architecture in the country, and it is one of the best-kept buildings in the region.
The whole structure develops over several different buildings, some of them mansions with 2 or 4 floors. Some of them were used by noblemen, while the most important one was probably the palace where the Despot (the second son of the Emperor) would live. This particular building dates from 1350-1400 AD.
The constructions feature an elaborate architectural style, with arches, corridors, and cellars.
Visit The Moni Panagia Pantanassa Monastery
This is one of the most beautiful Byzantine churches you can explore in Mystras; it is actually the remaining Katholikon of a former monastery founded by a high-ranked military and functionary of the despotate.
The church might have been built back in 1428, as this date was found carved on one of the walls; however, no sources can prove the dating. The church is known for its architectural style, which is quite typical in most buildings in Mystras.
Its most important characteristics are the festoons and decorations, the pointed arches, and some other details that might indicate the influence of the Frankish inhabitants in the area. Another interesting detail of the church is the incredible quantity and excellently preserved wall paintings and frescoes of clear Orthodox tradition.
Agios Demetrios Cathedral
Another stunning church and remarkable site to visit in Mystras is the Cathedral of Agios Demetrios, which dates from the end of the 1200s AD.
Mixing different architectonic styles, the three-aisled basilica displays a marvelous bell tower built in the thirteenth century.
On the second floor, there is a church with a pretty diverse plan, probably added a couple f centuries later, that boasts fantastic frescoes in different styles. Researchers believe that in this cathedral, the last Konstantinos Paleologos, the Byzantine emperor, was crowned in 1449.
Cavern Of Keadas
A unique, legendary place to visit in Mystras is this imposing cave where, according to the legend, the ancient inhabitants of Sparta would throw their weak and deformed infants. Despite this spread myth, there has been no archaeological finding that could support the theory, as only the rest of the older men and none belonging to small children were found.
The cave is found on the eastern side of Mount Taygetos, at an altitude of 750 meters, and from the entrance, you will be stunned at the impressive views of the Sparta Valley.
Unfortunately, the place has become quite dangerous to visit as the surrounding terrain is unsafe. Yet, getting close to the cave, it is possible to feel a cold breeze coming from the cave, something that ancient Greeks would describe as the soul of the kids that lost their lives in this place.
Monastery Of Panagia Perivleptos
One of the finest religious buildings that you can visit in Mystras, this place features impressively detailed wall paintings probably dating back to the fourteenth century and is often described as crucial for those interested in learning and understanding the key elements of Byzantine art. The monastery’s main church, or katholikon, has a cross square plant.
The monastery is built on the side of a cliff with a cave supporting the structure, typical of several old constructions in Mystras, especially churches and monasteries. This particular building has a castle-like aspect, and it is made of squared stones with tiles.
Best Places To Eat In And Around Mystras
These are some of the most popular places to eat in Mystras.
- Melydron is a famous pizza hour and Mediterranean restaurant located close to Mystras and Sparta that serves abundant dishes and is open for lunch and dinner too
- Ktima Skreka offers outdoor seating to enjoy delicious dishes from the local cuisine. The place also serves vegetarian dishes
- To KadeNeon is a beautiful traditional café with a modern twist in Mystras offering affordable, simple dishes from the Greek tradition.
Top Accommodation Near Mystras
In and around Mystras, you will find dozens of studios, villas to rent, hotels, and other alternative places to stay to enjoy the best of the city; these are some of the best places to stay in Mystras.
Budget Places To Stay In Mystras
- Byzantion Hotel: This place is located down the road to the Byzantine town of Mystras, a short drive from the Archaeological Site. It features rooms with spectacular views of Mount Taygetos. It is surrounded by lush vegetation and well-kept gardens, with a swimming pool and an elegant bar. Bicycles are available for rent at the reception, and free private parking is possible on-site. Check out the hotel &prices here ↳
- Arxontiko Taygeti: This hotel is 5 kilometers from the center of Mystras and offers units that have a seating area to relax, a balcony, and yard access with mountain, castle, and landscape views. Check out the hotel & prices here ↳
Mid-Range Places To Stay In Mystras
- Laconian Collection Villa Magoula: Featuring garden views, the place offers accommodation with a balcony and a coffee machine. There is also a garden and free private parking. Check out the hotel & prices here ↳
- Pyrgos of Mystra: This small luxury hotel, built in 1850, stands proudly under the shadow of Mount Taygetos. The imposing mansion has been transformed into a stately guesthouse, offering luxurious rooms and comfortable decor. Check out the hotel & prices here ↳
Luxury Places To Stay In Mystras
- Melies Hotel: This place features an outdoor pool, barbecue, and children’s playground. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Free private parking is available on-site. Check out the hotel & prices here ↳
- Mystras Grand Palace Resort and Spa: This hotel has free bikes, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, and air-conditioned rooms, and it features a restaurant. A buffet breakfast can be enjoyed in the breakfast area. The property has a hot tub, a sauna, and a fitness center. Check out the hotel & prices here ↳
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