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Mystras: The Glory that was Greece!

Published by Vanessa Boiser, Writer

Country: Greece

The Experience

When we talk about archaeological sites they are often shrouded in myth and legend, and perhaps nowhere else on earth do more of these tales originate from other than Greece. Greek ruins always make our top 10 lists because its roots are so deep. Its colourful and vibrant history has been a source of inspiration for many centuries now. Its academic contribution to the world is priceless and has been the foundation to many schools of thought today.

Mystras is one of the top archaeological treasures in Greece. It's located 5 kilometres from the city of Sparti, south of Peloponnese. Mystras, also known as the 'wonder of the Morea', is an amphitheater and a castle built in 1249 by the Prince of Achair. Mystras, Greece was declared a UNESCO world heritage monument in order to preserve the great civilization that once perched overlooking Sparta. Mystras offers a number of interesting things to see and do for visitors looking for a combination of adventure, education and appreciation of the ancient world.

Mystras is also often referred to as one the great Byzantine towns in Peloponnese from the 15th to 18th century. Conquered by the Byzantines, and turned over through time by the Turks and Venetians, Mystras was ultimately abandoned in 1832. Stepping into these medieval ruins you can almost see trails of white fabric flowing behind Grecian goddesses. With a backdrop of spiraling cathedrals dashed throughout the lush countryside, it's not so hard to imagine.

A good place to visit in Mystras is the Ceadas Cavern just a few metres away from the ruins. The Ceadas Cavern has been a topic of many controversial claims of historians and folklore. This cavern is where the ancient Spartans used to throw their weak and deformed infants. Since the children couldn't grow up to be the ideal Spartan, they were not needed. Although this train of thought has been largely disproved, this is why visitors do not forget to pass-by this area after seeing the historic ruins of Mystras.

Mystras’ more than six important churches reflect the ancient Greek’s fascination and dedication to the supernatural. Tourists will be left in awe with the poignant beauty that rings out from these churches. It is worth noting to take a complete tour of Agios Demetrios Cathedral, Monastery of Our Lady of Perivleptos, Monastery of Our Lady of Pantanassa, The Agia Sophia Church, Agioi Theodori Church and Church of Our Lady of Hodegetria.

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When to Go to Mystras

The best time to visit Greece is during summer (July-August). Although it can get hot and crowded, the sights and sounds of Mystras are beautiful on a warm summer night.
Other ideal months to visit Greece however are May to June and September to October, when the weather is hot but manageable, and the area is more peaceful. Tourists who prefer more intimate moments with nature should visit Greece during these months.

Odds n' Ends

Where there are archaeological findings, there are also the abundance of museums and Mystras is a place where artifacts are of rare value. The Byzantine Museum of Mystras was founded in 1951. It is a two-story building that will leave art and history enthusiasts satisfied, but wanting more. Ancient paintings, potteries, rich collection of jewelries, coins and post byzantine icons and relics are only some of the items on Mystras prized museum.

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