Citizens of today’s Sparta (pop. 12,500) make olive oil, not war. Pleasant public gardens and broad, palm-lined boulevards make Sparta hospitable, and it is by far the best base for exploring the Byzantine ruins of Mystras. Ancient Sparta is only a lkm walk north down Paleolougou. Buses from Sparta go to: Areopolis (lVfchr. 2 per day, ‚4.60); Athens (S’ahr. 8 per day, ‚14) via Corinth (2lAi\i. ‚8.30) and Tripoli (lhr. ‚3.70); and Monemvasia (2hr. 3 per day, ‚6.80). To reach the town center from the bus station, walk about 10 blocks west on Lykourgou; the tourist office is in the plateia. (24 852. Open M-F 8am-2pm.) Hotel Cecil , Paleologou 125, 5 blocks north of Lykourgou toward Ancient Sparta, on the comer of Paleologou and Thermopilion, has pleasant rooms with AC, phones, private baths, and TVs. ( 24 980. Reservations recommended. Singles ‚28-33; doubles ‚33-38.)

Mystras, 4km from Sparta, was once the religious center of all Byzantium and the locus of Constantinople’s rale over the Peloponnese. Its extraordinary hillside ruins comprise a city of Byzantine churches, chapels, and monasteries. Modest dress is required at the functioning convent. (Open in summer daily 8am-7pm; offseason 8:30am-3pm. ‚5. Children and EU students free.) Buses leave from the station and from the corner of Lykourgou and Leonidou in Sparta for the top of the ruins (20min. 11 per day, ‚0.90).

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