Beyond Argos, the first town the visitor to southern Peloponnese comes to is Tripolis, the principal township of the province of Arcadia. Tripolis is itself a summer resort popular with those who want to escape from the heat. Other nearby resorts include Vytina on Mount Menalon, Leonidi, and Astros along the eastern coast of the Peloponnese.
As we journey south from Tripolis, Mount Taygetos and Mount Parnon loom in the distance. This is now Laconia and the next town on the itinerary is Sparta, with its rich historical associations. The town was founded by the Dorians in the 9th century B.C. and in the following two centuries it developed into the most powerful military city in Greece, thanks to the cold, austere, yet efficient laws, perfected by the law-giver Lycurgus.
The great Peloponnesian war ( 431-404 B.C. ) was, in effect, a conflict between two rival political ideals – of cultured Athens and military Sparta. And though victory went to the austere state of Lycurgus, Sparta too finally fell Into decline In 371 B.C. Modern Sparta is a thriving industrial and agricultural center with broad streets and parks, hotels with modern amenities, restaurants, and shops.
Nearby Mistras has made Sparta a lively tourist center. The surviving remains in Sparta date from the Roman and Byzantine periods and are in no way indicative of the former city-state’s power and influence.
Mistras ( 6 km from Sparta ) was once a glittering fortress of the Byzantine Empire, with palaces, houses, monasteries, and churches founded in the 13th century during the Frankish occupation of the Peloponnese. Mistras is now a vast museum of architecture, sculpture, and decorative art, conveying to the visitor a vivid image of a splendid and glorious era.
Yithion was in ancient times Sparta’s port and naval base. According to legend, it is the site from which Paris and Helen of Troy fled to Egypt, following the most famous abduction of
Today this pleasant little harbor is the gateway to the area of the Mani and the Caves of Diros. it is also an idea! the base for excursions to Monemvasia, the second important Byzantine fortress-town in the Peloponnese.