Sunday, March 02, 2014

Mystras & Sparta

Mystras, like Monemvasia, is another Byzantine site, except completely preserved as an archaeological site.  The government relocated people to a nearby village but let the nuns in one of the monasteries stay.  A number of churches are well preserved, with colorful frescoes.   Because of reduced the bus schedule for Sunday, we had to speed through the site, nevertheless we walked to the castle (kastro) at the top.  It is my kind of site too, lots of places to wander and lots to see.

We got back to Sparta close to 1:00 pm, just in time to catch the end of their Carnival parade.  None of our guidebooks recommend Sparta, as it is a modern city.  Seeing the little kids and young people dressed in costume going around excitedly with their family and friends reminded me that just about my favorite sight of our travels is seeing local people enjoying themselves.

Afterwards we walked to the little recommended sites of ancient Sparta Acropolis and Theater.  While the glory of ancient Sparta can still be gleaned from the Theater, the Acroplis is mostly bare.  Today we look upon this ancient people as having strange rituals, because we are adherents of their competitor, the Ancient Athenians, when both cultures are historical anomalies, unintuitive, unnatural... Maybe that's why real democracy is so illusive -- the more innate urges for dominance are ever so strong?

Lunch atop the Mystras Kastro (Castle).
Lunch on the Kastro (Castle) - Mystras - Sparta, Greece

Palaces - Mystras.
Palaces - Mystras - Sparta, Greece

A few frescoes from the various churches at Mystras.

Fresco - Mystras - Sparta, Greece

Fresco - Mystras - Sparta, Greece

Fresco - Mystras - Sparta, Greece

Mystras - Sparta, Greece

View from Mystras down to the olive groves on the Spartan Plains.
The Plains of Sparta as seen from Mystras, Greece

Carnival Festivities.
Carnival - Sparta, Greece

Looks like there's going to be a Carnival bonfire in this village between Mystras and Sparta (as seen from the bus window).
Carnival Bonfire Preparation - Sparta, Greece

The Ancient Theater of Sparta. Even though most of the stone blocks were "mined" years ago, we found this theater - with snow-capped peaks in the distance - as impressive as any. For a sense of scale, find the man who is sitting on a stone on the highest "row" on the opposite side.

Ancient Theater - Sparta, Greece

Ancient Theater - Sparta, Greece

It's tree trimming time in the olive groves.
Olive Grove - Sparta, Greece

We were out early this morning to catch the local museum before heading to Mystras. The streets were still wet from yesterday's rain and the mountains majestic.
View West to the Snow-capped Mountains - Sparta, Greece

Breaking news! We just returned from dinner at Restaurant Diethnes, a traditional Greek family restaurant, and it looks like there will be a bonfire in city center tonight.

Restaurant Diethnes - Sparta, Greece

Carnival Bonfire - Sparta, Greece


Kathy said...

Great photos! Looks like your timing was really good - aside from the Sunday buses, of course, always a pain.

I had a very good veggie meal in Sparta.

john said...

Kathy, The timing was very good and maybe the festival would have been missed if there was a later return bus from Mystras. Go with the flow. ;-)

Crash Eddy said...

Holy bat guano, Robin! I can't find the man in the last row at 3x zoom. OK, OK, I'm convinced scale is huge.

john said...

Ed, It may be better to say he's at the top of the far "grassy rim", to the left of the trees....Keep on searching!