Top Historic Sights in Mystras, Greece

Explore the historic highlights of Mystras

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church (Naós Agíou Nikoláou) is a late Byzantine church built to the archaeological site of Mystras in the 17th century, during the Ottoman Era. Some parts of frescoes have survived. Today the church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras.
Founded: 17th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Despot's Palace

The Palace of the Despots dominates the Upper Town of Mystra. It is a great complex of buildings belonging to different times of construction. They started to be built by the Franks, possibly by Guillaume de Villehardouin, and were completed by the Byzantines (the Despot was usually a son or brother of the Emperor).  These palace constitutes a great example of the Byzantine architecture. The whole building complex is L- ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Church of Our Lady Evangelistria

Church of Our Lady Evangelistria is one of the Byzantine churches in the Archaeological Site of Mystras, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The domed, cross-in-square, two-column church decorated with wall paintings dates from beginning of the 15th century. The few original frescoes still survive.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Agia Sophia Church

Agia Sophia Church was built in the mid-14th century. During the reign of Ottoman Empire it was used as a mosque. The church is richly decorated with frescoes, although only some of them have survived. Today Agia Sophia is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mystras, Greece

Agioi Theodoroi Church

The Church of Agioi Theodoroi is one of the oldest and largest chapel in Mystras. It is located in Kato Hora, the lowest part of Mystras Old Town. The church was constructed between 1290-1295 by the monks Daniel and Pahomios. Originally, it was the katholikon of a monastery and then it became a cemetery church. The architecture of the church is different than the usual Byzantine architecture and ressembles to the Monaste ...
Founded: 1290-1295 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Agios Demetrios Cathedral

One of the most important churches of Mystras is the Cathedral of Agios Demetrios, built in 1280- 1292. It is the oldest church in the city. This church has a mixed architectural style: on the one hand it has a three-aisled basilica with a narthex and a bell tower, built in the 13th century on the ground floor, and on the other hand, the upper floor is a cross-in-square church, added in the first half of the 15th century ...
Founded: 1280-1292 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Pantanassa Monastery

The Pantanassa Monastery is a monastery in Mystras. It was founded by a chief minister of the late Byzantine Despotate of the Morea, John Frankopoulos, and was dedicated in September 1428. It is the only monastery on the site still permanently inhabited. Today it is inhabited by nuns providing hospitality. Its beautifully ornate stone-carved façade is of architectural note. Pantanassa Monastery is part of the UNESCO Wor ...
Founded: 1428 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Brontochion Monastery

Brontochion Monastery is located on the northern slope of Mystras, an archaeological site dedicated as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The abbot Pachomius incorporated into  the small church of the Hodegetria, or 'Aphentikon', as the monastery"s catholicon. The church was reconstructed and completed around 1310.
Founded: 1308-1322 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Villehardouin's Castle

Mystras, the ‘wonder of the Morea’, developed down the hillside from the fortress built in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William II of Villehardouin, at the top of a 620 m high hill overlooking Sparta. The Principality of Achaea was one of the three vassal states of the Latin Empire which replaced the Byzantine Empire after the capture of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. It became a vassal of the Kingdom o ...
Founded: 1249 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Peribleptos Monastery

The Peribleptos Monastery is a late Byzantine-era monastery in Mystras, Greece. It was probably built in the mid-14th century by the first Despot of the Morea, Manuel Kantakouzenos, and named after one of the most celebrated monasteries of Byzantine Constantinople. The Monastery is built into the side of a cliff with a cave supporting the structure. This architectural style is known as the Mystras style and is prevalent i ...
Founded: c. 1348 | Location: Mystras, Greece

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.