In south-eastern Peloponnese you can visit the region of Laconia, with Sparta as the capital city. Even if you haven't visited the capital, you will surely have heard the phrase ``Τhis is Sparta`` in a popular Hollywood movie that describes the passion and the bravery of the Spartan soldiers and their King Leonidas at the legendary battle of Thermopylae.
Geographical & historical where about
The ancient city of Spartans was built on the banks of Eurotas river and freshwater was feeding citizens and fields. Imposing mountains like Mt Taygetos on the west and Mt Parnonas on the east were bounding the famous ancient city. Having this natural fortification they were protected from invasions for centuries. Spartans had a leading role in antiquity and they were famous as the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece. In classical Sparta the social life was fully organized. The education process was essential for full citizenship and it started from the birth. Proving their courage 300 Spartans fought against the massive Persian army under the commands of King Leonidas in 480 BC at the battle of Thermopylae, following their local quote “i tan i epi tas” (Come back victorious or dead).
Another landmark, Monemvasia was established in the 6th century and was an important trade and maritime center. It wasn’t always an island… an earthquake separated it from the mainland in 375 AD and nowadays a bridge connects it! Wander in the medieval castle and uncover the secrets of Monemvasia.
A few km away closest to Mt Taygetos is located Mystras, the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea that has its doors open to visitors. Mystras was a strong political, military, spiritual and artistic center. In 1823 Egyptians under the Ibrahims rule destroyed the area, but the majority of the most important churches are still standing. Due to the excellent architecture the area is included in the Unesco World Heritage Site.
Nature in all its glory
Diros cave is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful caves in the world and it is available to the public. The experience of being in the depths of the Laconian earth is enchanting. The formations of stalactites and stalagmites are impressive. As findings testify, prehistoric fauna was very rich. Hippopotamuses, panthers, lions, spotted hyenas, ferrets and seals were there from the late Pleistocene Epoch.
Activities in nature
The European long-distance hiking trail, famous E4, passes through Pelopponnese so the area offers all year mountaineering. There are dozens of signposted paths around that will amaze you. The summit of Taleton (Prophet Elias chapel) is the highest peak of Peloponnese. For a more challenging hike try “Pentadahtylos”. Ask our team for details!
Rock climbing in majestic landscapes that will take you all the way to the heavens. Lagada climbing park is the greatest choice for summertime but of course you can find climbing parks all year roung.
Don’t hesitate to ask our team for details!
Cultural and other experiences
“Melanas zomos” was the famous regional cuisine of ancient Sparta but you won’t find it anymore. Instead you can try the local homemade pasta called goges or saitia. Don’t forget to taste Syglino, the cured and smoked pork meat.
Ask for Malvasia, the regional sweet wine with the authentic flavor, also called “nectar of the nobles”.
You can also visit the “Museum of the Olive”. You will learn how olive trees affected our lives from prehistoric times till nowadays and you will also see exact replicas of olive press from Prehistoric, Hellinistic and Byzantine times. Young visitors can also participate in the educational programs that the museum organizes.
Extra tip: In 2004 the museum won the 1st prize of the Hellenic Institute of Architecture in the competition “Architecture Awards”.
Also worth seeing is the Art Gallery of Coumantaros, the 1st Annex of the National Gallery outside of Athens. It is features not only with the collection of I. Coumantaros but also paintings and sculptures from the 16th to the 19th century by European artists.
Chasing experiences around…
By taking the ferry boat from Pounta or Neapoli you can visit the island of Elafonisos. The famous exotic beach of Simos is undoubtedly one of the best in Greece. The island is protected under Natura 2000 due to the rich flora and fauna.
At the mountainous village of Karyes you can see the modern monument, an exact copy of a section of Erechtheion dome, the Karyatids. It is a symbol that connects the present time and the glorious past of the region.
Good to Know
Here are some basic info and fun facts about Laconia!