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Mystras' Palace
Mystras' Palace
Mystras is located in Greece
Coordinates 37°4′N 22°23′E / 37.067°N 22.383°E / 37.067; 22.383Coordinates: 37°4′N 22°23′E / 37.067°N 22.383°E / 37.067; 22.383
Country: Greece
Periphery: Peloponnese
Prefecture: Laconia
Population statistics (as of 2001[1])
 - Population: 4,608
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (center): 15 m (49 ft)
Postal: 231 00
Telephone: 27310
Auto: ΑΚ
Archaeological Site of Mystras*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mistra 6.jpg
State Party  Greece
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv
Reference 511
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1989  (13th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Mystras, also Mistra, Mystra and Mistras (Greek: Μυστράς, Μυζηθράς, Mizithras or Myzithras in the chronicle of Morea) was a fortified town in Morea (the medieval Peloponnese), on Mt. Taygetos, near ancient Sparta. In the 14th and 15th centuries, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea, experiencing a period of prosperity and cultural flowering. The site remained inhabited throughout the Ottoman period, when it was mistaken by Western travellers for ancient Sparta. It was abandoned in the 1830s, when the new town of Sparti was built, approximately eight kilometres to the east.



In 1249, Mystras became the seat of the Latin Principality of Achaea, established in 1205 after the conquest of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, and Prince William II Villehardouin, a grand-nephew of the Fourth Crusade historian Geoffrey of Villehardouin, built a palace there.

In 1261, the Latins ceded Mystras and other forts in the southeastern Peloponnese as ransom for William II, who had been captured in Pelagonia, and Michael VIII Palaeologus made the city the seat of the new Despotate of the Morea. It remained the capital of the despotate, ruled by relatives of the Byzantine emperor, although the Venetians still controlled the coast and the islands. Mystras and the rest of Morea became relatively prosperous after 1261, compared to the rest of the empire. Under the despot Theodore it became the second most important city in the empire after Constantinople, and William II's palace became the second residence of the emperors.

The frescos in the Peribleptos Church, dating between 1348 and 1380, are a very rare surviving late Byzantine cycle, crucial for the understanding of Byzantine art.

Mystras was also the last centre of Byzantine scholarship; the Neoplatonist philosopher George Gemistos Plethon lived there until his death in 1452. He and other scholars based in Mystras influenced the Italian Renaissance, especially after he accompanied the emperor John VIII Palaeologus to Florence in 1439.

The last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI, was despot at Mystras before he came to the throne. Demetrius Palaeologus the last despot of Morea, surrendered the city to the Ottoman emperor Mehmed II in 1460. The Venetians occupied it from 1687 to 1715, but otherwise the Ottomans held it until 1821 and the beginning of the Greek War of Independence. It was abandoned by King Otto for the newly rebuilt Sparti.

In 1989 the ruins, including the fortress, palace, churches, and monasteries, were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Geography and statistics


Nearest places


Historical population

Year Communal population Change Municipal population
1981 920 -
1991 525 -395/-42.93% 4,592

The municipality seat of Mystras is in Magoula.

Notable people

People from Mystras

  • Gemistus Pletho (usually called Plethon) (1355-1452), philosopher and scholar



Plan of Mystras after works by G. Millet (1910) and M. Chatzidakis (1981).
  • 1. Main entrance;
  • 2. Metropolis;
  • 3. Evangelistria;
  • 4. Saint-Theodores;
  • 5. Hodigitria-Afendiko;
  • 6. Monemvasia's Gate;
  • 7. Saint-Nicolas;
  • 8. The Despot's Palace and the square;
  • 9. Nauplia's Gate;
  • 10. Upper entrance to the citadel;
  • 11. Saint-Sophia;
  • 12. Small Palace;
  • 13. Citadel;
  • 14. Mavroporta;
  • 15. Pantanassa;
  • 16. Taxiarchs;
  • 17. Frangopoulos' House;
  • 18. Peribleptos;
  • 19. Saint-Georges;
  • 20. Krevata House;
  • 21. Marmara (entrance);
  • 22. Aï-Yannakids;
  • 23. Laskaris' House;
  • 24. Saint-Christopher;
  • 25. Ruins;
  • 26. Saint-Kyriaki.

Photo gallery


  • Runciman, Sir Steven, The Lost Capital of Byzantium: The History of Mistra and the Peloponnese. Cambridge (MA), 2009, 160 pp.

External links

North: Oinounta
West: Kalamata
in Messenia
Mystras East: Sparta
South: Farida

See also

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Sparta article)

From Wikitravel


Sparta is the administrative capital of Laconia Prefecture, Greece.


At the decree of King Otto of Greece, the present day city of Sparta was built in 1834 near the site of the original city. With its wide, tree lined boulevards, the city was designed to be a paragon for all Greek towns.

The modern town still reflects this original vision, and is a very pleasant and green city set before a backdrop of lush hills.

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