Friday, July 27, 2018

Greece's Magical Mystras Castle

Greece is famous for its ancient monuments but my visit to the Peloponnese region revealed that there are so many more historic landmarks than the Acropolis and the Parthenon. In fact, the country is literally covered with ancient history, including 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of which is Mystras Castle Town.

Stepping into the Byzantine archways of Mystras is like strolling through Greek legends.  Founded in the 12th century, this mountainside town was once the center of the Byzantine empire, second only to Constantinople. Mystras was also where the last Byzantine emperor was crowned and you get a sense of the opulence of the period from the long frescos in the churches and the marble engravings of the castles and mansions.

Fortress, church and castle ruins are spread all over Mystras. There is a dreamy, otherworldly feeling that hovers over the place. The only permanently occupied structure is the Pantanasssa Monastery, which houses a group of nuns. There are usually not many crowds in Mystras so I enjoyed  a peaceful visit soaking up the history and mountain views.

Photos by R. Cummings-Yeates