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Located on the steep slopes of the Taygetus Mountains on the Peloponnese Peninsula, Mystras is an archaeological site in the region of Laconia. A classic fortified city, it’s surrounded by verdant orange and olive trees and filled with cobbled streets worn smooth by the centuries. The historic palace where the last Byzantine emperor was crowned lies abandoned now, offering visitors the chance to take a trip back in time to an incredibly well-preserved medieval Byzantine city.
Mystras At A Glance
Population of Mystras 1,000
What to See in Mystras Ancient Sparta, Visit the Archaeological Museum, Church of Agia Sofia, Cathederal of Agios Demetrios, Palace of Despots & the Monastery of Perivleptos
Towns or islands to visit near Mystras Athens, the Peloponnese Peninsula – Kalamata, Stoupa, Nafplio, Monemvasia – Corinth, the Saronic Islands
Things to do in Mystras
Archaeological Museum of Mystras
Housed inside a building at the west wing of the Cathedral of St. Demetrios’ north courtyard, this museum contains an impressive collection of Byzantine sculptures, pottery, jewelry, coins and more. A hair plait and fragments of fabric that were discovered inside of a grave at the church of Agia Sophia in Mystras are believed to have belonged to a Byzantine princess and are displayed here as well.
Church of Agia Sofia
This stone church dates to the late Byzantine period, around the mid-14th century, and served as the palace church and burial ground for a number of emperors’ wives. There are still some frescoes here in a side chapel that have survived through the centuries.
Cathedral of Agios Demetrios
This church, founded in the late 13th century, is considered one of the most important churches in Mystras as the place where in 1449, Constantinos Paleologos was crowned. It contains a three-aisled basilica with a bell tower and narthex which were part of the original building. Some 200 years later, a cross-in-square church was added.
Palace of Despots
Near Nafplio Gate is the massive Palace of Despots, the second most important palace of the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople. The complex was started by the Franks and finished by the Byzantines. It was the house of the Despot of Mystras, with various buildings constructed between the mid-13th and mid-15th centuries. The main palace was constructed between 1350 and 1400
Monastery of Perivleptos
Built into a rock that’s nestled in a grove of pines, the Monastery of Perivleptos houses very well-preserved 14th century frescos. The main church contains a high dome where at the center is the Byzantine depiction of Christ as the universal, all-powerful ruler, Pantokrator. It’s surrounded by the Apostles and the Virgin, flanked by a pair of angels.
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