Mystras: The Byzantine Castle City
- Cathedral of Saint Dimitrios: Among its decorations, this church displays a plaque that marks the end of an era – the crowning of Byzantium's last emperor.
- Odigitria Church: Founded in 1310, this restored three-aisled basilica is topped with five domes and adorned with magnificent frescoes and inscriptions.
- Mystras village: Free time to shop, relax in a cafe or tavern, and see the statue of Constantinos Paleologos, the last Byzantine emperor, in the central square.
About This Gythion Tour
Evocative medieval ruins hug the steep hillside as if trying to hold tight to their city's glorious past. And Mystras was glorious. At its zenith, it was a dynamic intellectual and artistic center of 20,000, with gates and fortifications, palaces and churches, mansions and houses, and streets with decorative fountains. Wandering those streets today, you imagine a city with a brilliant destiny. Yet it was abandoned to the ravages of time.
It all began with a vision for a great castle. In 1249, a Frankish lord constructed his castle on the hilltop overlooking Sparta. It would be strong enough, he hoped, to resist attacks by the Byzantines. But he was barely finished before defeat in battle forced him to trade the castle for his freedom. Mystras' landmark would pass to myriad conquerors over the centuries.
A Byzantine general took over in 1262, and by the mid-1300s Mystras was capital of the Peloponnese. In this commanding role, it reached its glory days as a fine Byzantine town. Culture and arts flourished. Great thinkers from Constantinople and the West gathered. Then, in 1449, Byzantium's last emperor was crowned at the Cathedral; four years later he was killed when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. The 1500-year-old Roman Empire was over.
The castle was handed the Turks, to the Venetians, then to the Turks again. By 1830, the city was forsaken. Miraculously, the ruins have left Byzantium's last spiritual and artistic center impressively intact. Mystical Mystras clung to its history. Its thinkers lit a spark that continues to illuminate the Greek world. And this castle town still ignites the imagination of all who see it.
Lighting the spark in Mystras
Among Mystras' influential thinkers was Plethon, a 15th-century devotee of Plato. As the Byzantine Empire waned, Plethon reintroduced Plato's ideas and urged the Greeks to rediscover the glories of their ancient past. They listened. Plethon's teachings are credited with the rebirth of classical culture in Greece and beyond. His ideas helped to revive learning in Western Europe and gave momentum to the Renaissance.
Please go to the tender pier station to meet your guide. Please look for our GoBe Representative with the displayed logo sign. Staying at a hotel? Be sure to advise the GoBe Crew so we can meet you in the lobby.
There is some free time in Mystras Village for shopping.
Plan to walk for about 1.5 miles over uneven/cobblestone surfaces and up steep inclines and climb about 400 steps. Difficulty walking? This tour may be too challenging for you to enjoy and maintain the pace of the group. It is not wheelchair accessible.
Cultural, Walking Tour, Shopping
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated strenuous. Travelers must consider their physical fitness level and medical history when determining whether this tour is appropriate. Travelers with pre-existing neck, back, knee and/or shoulder injuries, cardiac conditions, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, other heart or respiratory conditions or any other medical condition must take particular caution when selecting a tour categorized as "strenuous". If you have concerns, you must consult with your personal physician before engaging in any activity that may be too strenuous for you.
Suitable for all ages.
Special Medical Restriction
Due to the physical nature of this tour, it is not recommended to pregnant women.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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