Surrounded by mounts Taygetos and Parnon, Sparta was the kingdom of Menelaus and his beautiful queen, the most beautiful of all mortal women of her age, Helen. But Aphrodite had promised Paris of Troy the most beautiful woman on earth in return of a favour, so the Trojan prince came to Sparta to claim his trophy. He abducted Helen and travelled back to his homeland. Menelaus wanted his wife back and talked all the other kings of Greece into fighting against the Trojans. That’s pretty much how the most celebrated war of the myths started.
Sparta was founded by the Dorian’s in the 9th century B.C. and in the next few years it developed into the most powerful military city in Greece, thanks to the efficient laws, perfected by the law-giver Lycurgus. The Spartans deferred from the rest of Greeks in the culture, and the way of life. Their political system was completely fcoused on military training and excellence in the battle-field.Spartan women enjoyed considerably mre rights and equality to men than elsewhere in the classicaal world.
Sparta reached the height of its power in 404 B.C. after its victory against Athens in the second Peloponnesian war. When it was in its prime, Sparta had no city walls; its inhabitants, it seems, preferred to defend it with men rather than mortar. However, within a few decades, after a defeat against the Thebans at the Battle of Leuctra, the city found itself reduced to a “second-rate power”, a status from which it never recovered.
On the ruins of ancient Sparta only three sites can be identified today with certainty: “the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia beside the Eurotas river, the temple of Athena Chalcioecus (“of the Bronze House”) on the Acropolis, and the early Roman theater just below it.”
Departing early from Athens, we drive west through the scenic route of the Saronic Gulf, untl we reach Corinth Canal that connects the Ionian Sea with the Aegean sea.We will have a short stop for photos. We continue our drive south of Pelopponese passing via Tripolis and arrive at Sparta.
Our first stop will be the Sanctuary of Artemis Οrthia beside the Eurotas river. At the Temple of Artemis Orthia, the young Spartan men underwent krypteia (initiations) that entailed severe public floggings. The altar had to be splashed with blood before the goddess was satisfied. Traces of two such altars are among sparse vestiges of the 6th-century BC temple. The larger ruins are the remains of a grandstand built in the 3rd century AD by the Romans, who revived the flogging tradition as a public spectacle.
We continue on to Ancient Sparta’s Acropolis remains. Locals can be seen here strolling, along with many young couples stealing a romantic moment amid the fallen limestone and shady trees. The ruins include a theater, a stadium, and a sanctuary to Athena.
We will then drive to the city of Sparta to have a stop at Leonidas statue before our lunch break. After lunch, you will visit the archeological museum of Sparta. The eclectic collection of the archaeological museum reflects Laconia’s turbulent history and is worth an hour to see Neolithic pottery, jewels and tools excavated from the Alepotrypa cave, Mycenaean tomb finds,bright 4th- and 5th-century Roman mosaics and objects from Sparta. Most characteristic of Spartan art are the bas-reliefs with deities and heroes; note the one depicting a seated couple bearing gifts who are framed by a snake (540 BC).
After your visit to the museum we start our way back to Athens.
Alternative Tour Options:
There are so many other things to see in this area. Keep in mind that your driver is at your disposal, so if you would like to adjust the proposed itinerary at all, just let him know!
Did you Know?
Sparta in time developed a system of dual kingship (two kings ruling at once). Their power was counter-balanced by the elected board of ephors (who may only serve a single one-year term).