Mark Read


Sparta, fearing no one, was without city walls or fortifications, 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, decisive defeat by Thebes at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC was the beginning of the end; this was followed by successive subjugations by the Macedonians, Romans, Goths and Slavs.

The town was refounded in 1834 AD 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 it's a pleasant country town. A few ruins attest to its ancient pre-eminence and its proximity to the Byzantine glories of Mystras makes it a handy stop.

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