Spectacular a glorious place, Mystras (5 Km north-west of Sparti) and a 1,5 hour drive from Tower dei Nicliani is one of the most exciting cities in Peloponnese. Standing still in time, the dead city lies on the slope of the sheer, strange hill with the fortress at its top and are listed as a UNESCO heritage site,
The whole of Mystras is an open-air museum. A reminder of glorious era of power and culture. Its fortifications and churches, its palaces and mansions, its roads and fountains, charm thousands of visitors daily and offers them valuable insights in the evolution and culture of the Byzantines.
For two centuries Mistras was at the forefront of developments and had a brilliant history full of glory, splendor and political, social and cultural contributions. Its story begins in the mid-13th century when the Franks were dominant in the Peloponnese. In 1249 Villehardouin II built an impregnable fortress at the top of a hill called Mistras or Mizithras. Ten years later Villehardouin found himself a prisoner of the Byzantine Emperor Michael Paleologus and bought his freedom by handing over the fortresses of Mistras, Monemvasia and Mani. Mistras offered security, so that the inhabitants of neighbouring Lacedaemonia, as Sparti was then called, made their homes on the slopes surrounding the fortress.
The settlement and the Hora (town) were protected by a wall, but the new houses were built outside the enclosure. Another wall protected the new settlement, Kato Hora. The strategoi (generals) governed the town, and as of 1308, when the seat of the Diocese had been moved to Lacedaemonia. Mistras became in the mid-14th century the capital of the Peloponnese and the seat of the Seignioly (Despotate) of the Moreas, with a ruler or despot who enjoyed a tenure for life.
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