Mystras (also Mistra, Mystra and Mistras Greek: Μυστράς, Μυζηθράς Mizithras or Myzithras in the chronicle of Morea) was a fortified town in Morea (the Peloponnesus), on Mt. Taygetos, near ancient Sparta. It lies approximately eight kilometres west of the modern town of Sparti.


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 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 Sparta.

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

Geography and statistics

Nearest places


  • Magoula
  • Mystras

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.

The community has a school and a square (plateia).

Notable people

  • Gemistus Pletho (usually called Plethon,) (1355-1452), philosopher and scholar
  • Dimitra Sarantakos, mother of Criss Angel


  • John VI Kantakouzenos
  • Manuel Kantakouzenos
  • Theodora Tocco


  • 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.


  • Runciman, Sir Steven, Mistra (1980)

External links

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

See also


  • Communities of Laconia
Listed in the following categories:
Post a comment
Tips & Hints
Arrange By:
31 March 2016
A place full of history. Legend says that there are 2 bases buried, one with gold the other with snakes. If you find them and you are lucky to open the golden one you should give me half for the tip!
The West Wing
23 September 2011
The beauty of the churches of Mystras, which during the Paleologus Renaissance had been covered with dramatic frescoes. A World Heritage Monument of Unesco.
24 March 2017
If you pass by Sparta, you should make a stop here. It's a must!
Boon Koh
10 October 2020
Two parking lots available: upper town and lower town.
Nik Nanos
21 July 2013
Tour the lower level Kato Hori then drive to the top and do the upper town.
Konstantina ????
22 May 2018
Χρειάζεται περίπου 3 ώρες κανείς για να επισκεφτεί τα σημαντικότερα σημεία της καστροπολιτείας.Οπωσδήποτε αθλητικό παπούτσι.Η θέα από ψηλά είναι πολύ εντυπωσιακή και το τοπίο μοναδικό!
Load more comments
22,383 people have been here

Hotels nearby

See all hotels See all
Ugurlu Thermal Resort & SPA

starting $34

Dedeman Gaziantep Hotel & Convention Center

starting $229

Yilmazoglu Park Otel

starting $53

Buyuk Velic Hotel

starting $24

Gaziantep Garni Hotel

starting $32

Jaleriz Gaziantep Hotel

starting $23

Recommended sights nearby

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here

Mount Taygetus, Taugetus, or Taigetus (Ελληνικά. Ταΰγετο

Add to wishlist
I've been here

Parnon (Greek, Modern: Πάρνωνας) or Malevo is a mountain ridge on the

Add to wishlist
I've been here

Kelefa or Kelepha (Ελληνικά. Κελεφά) is a castle and village in Ma

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Old Pylos castle

Old Pylos castle is a 13th-century fortress near Pylos, Greece. It is

Add to wishlist
I've been here

Palamidi is a military fortress to the east of the Acronauplia in the

Add to wishlist
I've been here

The castle of Bourtzi (Greek: Μπούρτζι) is located in the middle

Add to wishlist
I've been here

Lycosura (Greek, Ancient: Λυκόσουρα, Modern: Palaeokastro or Sideroka

Add to wishlist
I've been here

Bassae (Latin) or Bassai, Vassai or Vasses (Greek, Modern:

Similar tourist attractions

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Moscow Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin (Russian: Московский Кремль Moskovskiy Krem

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Old Havana

Old Havana (español. La Habana Vieja) contains the core of the

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located in the Los Glaciares

Add to wishlist
I've been here

The Geiranger fjord (Geirangerfjorden) is a fjord in the Sunnmøre

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Batalha Monastery

Mosteiro Santa Maria da Vitória, more commonly known as the Batalha

See all similar places