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Introducing Sparta

The gridlike streets of modern Sparta (spar-tee) are in line with its ancient precursor’s image of discipline, although fortunately, not deprivation. It is an easy-going, if unremarkable, town that lies at the heart of the Evrotas Valley, surrounded by olive and citrus groves, while the Taÿgetos Mountains, snowcapped until early June, provide a stunning backdrop to the west.

The town was refounded in 1834 on the orders of King Otto, who had just made the decision to move his court from Nafplio to Athens.

Mindful of history, Otto and his court felt that since Athens was to be rebuilt to reflect its former glory, so too should Sparta. There’s a pleasant-enough square and a fascinating oil museum, and a few ruins attesting to its ancient pre-eminence. Most visitors head to the nearby site of Mystras, but it’s worth spending at least a few hours here.