The Ancient Sparta
Ancient Sparta was a prominent City-State in Ancient Greece. In antiquity it was known as Lakedaemon. The name Sparta actually referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Evrotas River in the province of Lakonia. Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in Ancient Greece.
As a result of its military pre-eminence Sparta was recognized as the overall leader of the combined Greek forces during the Greco-Persian Wars. Between 431 and 404 BC, Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Finally it emerged victorious, though at a great cost of lives lost.
Later on Sparta’s defeat by Thebes, led by the Theban general Epameinondas, in the Battle of Leuctra, in 371 BC, ended Sparta’s prominent role in Greece. However, it maintained its political independence until the Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC. It then underwent a long period of decline. Especially in the Middle Ages, when many Spartans moved to Mystras.
Modern Sparta is the Capital of the Greek regional unit of Lakonia. It is a center for producing, and processing of goods such as citrus and olives.
Sparta was unique in Ancient Greece for its social system and constitution. Completely focused on military training and excellence. Its inhabitants were classified as:
Spartiates (Spartan citizens, who enjoyed full rights). A proud and perfectionist race.
Mothakes (non-Spartan free men raised as Spartans),
Helots (state-owned serfs, enslaved non-Spartan local population).
Spartiates underwent the rigorous agoge training and education regimen. Moreover Spartan phalanges were among the best in battle. Spartan Women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the Classical World.
Sparta was the subject of fascination in its own day, as well as in the West. Following the revival of classical learning. Laconism or Laconophilia is the love or admiration of Sparta.
The size of the city at its peak around 500 BC was some 20,000 – 35,000 free residents. Plus numerous helots and perioikoi it came at 40,000 – 50,000. Given this fact it was one of the largest Greek Cities. However, according to Thucydides, the population of Athens in 431 BC was 360,000 – 610,000. Therefor making it unlikely that Athens was smaller than Sparta in 5th century BC.
In 1933 the French classicist François Ollier warned for a major scholarly problem regarding Sparta, in his book “Le Mirage Spartiate”. Given that all the surviving accounts of Sparta were written by non-Spartans, it was often presented an excessively idealized image of Sparta. Ollier’s theory of the “Le Mirage Spartiate” has been widely accepted by scholars.
SPARTA & MYSTRAS – PRIVATE TOUR
Learn Greek history on this Private Tour from Athens City to Ancient Sparta and Mystras.
Enjoy the scenery as you drive to the castle town of Mystras. The green surrounding is composed mainly by pine trees and cypresses, small lakes and rivers. The history of Mystras dates back to the 13th c. Over the years, it was occupied by the Byzantines, Turks and Venetians before being abandoned circa 1830. In 1989, the ruins of Mystras, including the fortress, palace, churches and monasteries, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The only remaining inhabitants of the town are the nuns at the Pandanassa convent.
During the trip, you will learn everything about the foundation of the castle town of Mystras, by William Villehardouin the second, in the 12th century AD. For his defeat by the Byzantine emperors and stories of the families of Katakouzenos and Paleologus, who brought Mystras at the peak of its glory in the 13th and 14th century AD. You will be informed about the long history of wars that followed, and the alternation of the conquerors. You will wander around Acropolis of William, which dominates the top of castle town. In narrow streets at which once walked princesses and Byzantine emperors. In museums within the cluttered walls, full with elements of daily life. In monasteries where nuns are still living. In churches where emperors were enthroned. Finally, if you’re hungry, remember that you are in Greece. Mediterranean traditional dishes at local restaurants are waiting for you. If not, go back to your hotel to enjoy your afternoon swim in the sea.
Explore Ancient Sparta – the birthplace of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans.
Witness the cliff at which Ancient Spartans were bringing and throwing their newborn sick children over, in order to avoid the continuation of the defective genes, that threatened to altered their proud and perfectionist race.
Take advantage of this individual Private Tour from Athens to Ancient Sparta and Mystras Archaeological Site to discover the city at your own pace in a Private Vehicle.
Sparta was unique in ancient Greece for its political (rather military) system which completely focused on military training and excellence in the battle-field. Spartan women enjoyed considerably more rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classical world.
We continue with visit to Mystras that was a fortified town in Morea (the medieval Peloponnese), on Mt. Taygetos, rising along ancient Sparta. In the 14th and 15th centuries, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea, experiencing a period of prosperity and cultural flowering.
Pick Up Service
At Hotels/Apartments located in the Athens Center and Piraeus Port.
If you stay outside of the City of Athens please select the appropriate option for the transfers on Extra Charge during the booking procedure.
Please be at the pick up point 5 minutes before the Appointed Pick up Time.