In Antiquity Sparta was one of the most important Greek city states and fought against Athens over Greek hegemony. Modern day Sparti, the capital town of Lakonia, is a new city practically refounded in 1834.
In the photo above is a modern statue of Spartan king Leonidas who died in Thermopylae in 480 BC fighting the Persians under Xerxes.
Sparta kept its importance until 396 when it suffers heavy blow from Alaric. With the coming of the Slavs, many Spartans moved to Mani region. The Byzantines founded a town called Lakedaimonia here, but it lost significance when the Despot established his residence in Mystras in 1248. Sparta was reborn when the independent Greek government refounded it as the capital of Lakonia.
<WHERE TO EAT IN SPARTA>
Eating is Sparta isn't difficult but eating WELL isn't that easy. The town is full of grills (psistaria where you eat souvlaki and the like) and fast food shops, but tavernas are difficult to find if you already know where to go.
The reputed to be the best taverna in town is DIETHNES
(K. Palaiologou 105, Sparta. Tel. 27310-28636), which is open from morning to midnight. I did eat there and the food was good and even better is the garden courtyard in the back of the building. I felt like eating in a park. The taverna ELYSSE's food is as good I heard, but the ambience is rather unattractive. Near these, there is a mezedopoleio called ELLINION, but the owner told me it is difficult to order if you don't know Greek at all.
Besides tavernas, there are also restaurants, one in the hotel MENELAION and the other in the hotel MANIATIS on the same Paleologou Street. I ate a moussaka at Menelaion. The food was good and the price was not much more expensive than at any taverna (these are the best hotels in Sparta, by the way). At Maniatis', I saw only the menu; the price seemed a little higher at Menelaion's, but the food is reputed to be good. The Menelaion looks more formal and Maniatis less so, but, you know, the Greeks in Sparta are not exactly classy, so you don't have to worry about it so much (although you will feel unease, if you dress like on the beach or in yourh hostel). Both are located at the centre of Sparta and there is no chance you will miss them.
Lastly, the onwer of the hotel where I stayed recommended a psitopoleio called ACROPOLIS. The food might be good, but it does not have any outside seating. I will go there in the winter.
- Robin Barber, Greece (Blue Guide), London- N.Y. 2001 (Revised reprint of the 6th edition of 1995), pp. 257-262.
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