Sparta, fearing no one, was without city walls or fortification, which is probably why so few traces are left of a remarkable people. At the height of their power, Greece's toughest, incorruptible, legendary warriors triumphed over Athens and the rest of Greece in the Peloponnesian Wars (431–404 BC). However, the decisive defeat by the Thebans in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC was the beginning of the end for Sparta, which was followed by successive subjugation by the Macedonians, Romans, Goths and Slavs.
The town was refounded in AD 1834 on the orders of King Otto. Mindful of history, Otto and his court felt that since Athens was to be rebuilt to reflect its former glory, so too should Sparta. He didn't succeed, though a few ruins attest to its ancient pre-eminence.
Most visitors pass through on their way to and from the Byzantine glories of Mystras.