One of my bucket list trips ticked off yesterday, with a visit to Sparta.
Modern Sparta isn't much of a destination, although they have put up a very fine statue of King Leonidas. I wore my '300' t-shirt especially for the occasion!
There are a few remains on the Acropolis, but most are later Roman or Byzantine additions. Including a theatre and a church.
A few miles outside Sparta is the Byzantine hill town and Frankish castle at Mystras. The ever busy William of Villehardouin built the castle in 1249. It's a bit of a climb, even from the higher fortress gate, but worth the effort. The castle is quite small, but you get a great view over the plain of Sparta.
The Byzantine town dates from 1262 and is filled with monasteries, churches, mansions and palaces. Many are in good condition and others are being repaired. In the 14th century, members of the imperial family ruled from here and it became an important cultural centre.