What to see in Monemvasia & Laconia
About Monemvasia and Laconia
The region of Laconia is a significant tourist destination, which combines famous sites, such as medieval Mystra, the fortress city at Monemvasia, and the tower houses in Mani, with locations of exceptional natural beauty, such as the Diros caves, Mt. Taygetos and cape Tainaros.
It has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic and Neolithic years, while it was later settled by the Leleges, Achaeans and Ionians. The Dorians arrived in 1100 B.C. and made Sparta their capital, which for centuries together with Athens, was one of the most powerful city-states in Ancient Greece, until its occupation by the Romans and later by the Franks and Turks.
Here was the kingdom of Menelaus and his beautiful queen, the most beautiful of all mortal women of her age, Helen. But Aphrodite had promised Paris of Troy the most beautiful woman on earth in return of a favor, so the Trojan prince came to Sparta to claim his trophy. He abducted Helen and travelled back to his homeland. Menelaus wanted his wife back and talked all the other kings of Greece into fighting against the Trojans. That’s pretty much how the most celebrated war of the myths started.
Nowadays modern Sparta, which is built directly on top of the ancient settlement, is an easy-going city with wide, tree-lined streets and offers many ruins to visit and also it is by far the best base for exploring the ruins of Byzantine Mystras, 6km away.
The fortress city of Monemvasia, a narrow strait of land on the coast of Southern Laconia, is the most popular destination of the region. A city founded by Greeks, transformed by Venetians, the experts on military architecture and completely restored by Ottoman rulers, Monemvasia is a perfectly preserved medieval settlement still inhabited, a world cultural heritage monument and a major attraction for every traveler in Greece.