The ancient Spartans were fighters, not builders, so there is not a great deal of substantial evidence of them in their prime around 400BC. But there are some remains to explore as well as the small Archeology Museum and The Olive Oil Museum. Sparta also has a smattering of churches that are worth visiting.
The Acropolis is on the North West outskirts of the town. A short walk up the path from the modern statue of Leonidas takes you to what remains of the Ancient Citadel of Sparta.
Despite the remains being rather Spartan [geddit?!], it’s a pleasant place to walk around. The remains of the church and the theatre are the best preserved. There are some information boards in English and the views over Sparta with the Taygetos Mountains behind would be worth the entry price alone, except that it is free – yay!
Temple of Artemis Orthia
The Temple, where Spartan youths were ritually flogged in public in order to show their manliness, is to be found on the North East edge of the town. We parked by the brown sign and walked down a rather dodgy dirt track which was strewn with old clothes and rubbish and did not give a good first impression.
The second impression is not much better as the site itself is closed to the public which is a shame but you can still see some remains through the fence.
This small museum has exhibits in two rooms and is set in the pleasant gardens near the town centre.
Many Roman Mosaics have been discovered in Sparta from the 3rd and 4th Centuries and some are on display here and they are lovely. There are also some striking busts including the well known bust of a Spartan Footsoldier.
Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive oil
This is a modern and excellently designed small museum dedicated to the Greek olive. There are plenty of exhibits inside [air conditioned] and in a courtyard [not air conditioned] and historical photographs with descriptions in English.
I love popping my head into Churches in the hope of finding something wonderful. The large modern Church of St Catherine on the main street may not be covered in frescos on the inside but was sumptiously decorated and worth a gawp.
Sadly the Older Byzantine style Church of Agios Nikon was closed off and I had to make do with peering at it through the iron railings.
As we wandered around Sparta we came across the rather lovely Church of Evangalistria which is set in an attractive park.
Opposite the church was this rather grand building:
Statues and Monuments
There are a few interesting statues and monuments scattered around Sparta. The most well known being the large statue of Leonidas by the stadium [see top of page].
I was impressed and moved by the War Memorial [above and below] and the Resistance Memorial [above left] which are in the square next to the Church of St Catherine.