Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Theme / Christian Monasteries

Mystras

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Mystras

About the site


Corridor: Western Trans-Balkan Road
Country: Greece, Laconia
Type: Fortress
Epoch: Middle Ages
Theme: Christian Monasteries
World Heritage: Cultural Heritage
Middle AgesChristian MonasteriesFortressCultural Heritage

Mystras, the 'wonder of the Morea', was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape.

UNESCO


Mystras occupies a steep foothill on the northern slopes of Mt. Taygetos, 6km. NW of Sparta. The castle on the top of the hill was founded in 1249 by the Frankish leader William II de Villeharduin. After 1262 it came under Byzantine control, and at the middle of the 14th century became the seat of the Despotate of Moreas. In 1448 the last emperor of Byzantium, Constantine XI Palaeologos, was crowned at Mystras. In 1460 the hill was captured by the Turks and in 1464 Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini managed to capture the city but not the castle. For a short period Mystras came under the control of the Venetians (1687-1715) but was again taken over by the Turks. It was one of the first castles of Greece to be liberated in 1821. The foundation of modern Sparta by king Otto in 1834 marked the end of the old town's life.

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Read more about Mystras at the Unesco World Heritage List.

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