While today the memory and history of Sparta are epic, the same can't be said for its ruins. The ancient Doric Greek city-state from its legendary beginning to its defeat of the Persians and dominance of ancient Greece is inspiring. But it wasn't to last, later under Alexandar the Great's empire and later the Roman Republic, Sparta had lost its significance.

The history of Sparta spanned about 1,000 years, but the period when it was the powerful military city-state famous to history was only a part of that. Today one can visit the ruins of Sparta and see what the legendary 300 once called home. While in Greece, visit the Athenian Acropolis - it remains one of the world's greatest treasures.

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History Of Sparta

Sparta rose to dominance in the 6th century BC around the time of the Persian Wars. After the Persian Wars (and the famous Battle of Thermopathae) it became a recognized leader of the Greek city-states (the other being Athens).

  • Earthquake: Sparta Was Devasted By An Earthquake In 464 BC

At around 464 BC Sparta was devasted by a major earthquake, in the quake of the earthquake the large subjugated popular in Sparta (called helots) rose in revolt. The Spartans called for Athenian help but aid was refused. This is attributed to being one of the key factors in the lead up the to First Peloponnesian War that the Spartans won and eventually subjugated Athenians.

  • Won: They Won Against The Persians And Then the Athenians
  • Lost: They Lost Against the Thebans (And Never Recovered)

Later in 371 BC Sparta's powerful war machine was broken in the Battle of Leuctra against the Thebans. Never again was Sparta able to exercise military supremacy in Greece and was finally absorbed by the Achaean League.

Related: 10 Things You Should Definitely Know Before Visiting Greece

Archaeological Museum Of Sparta

While in the modern town of Sparta pop into the Archaeological Museum of Sparta. It houses thousands of artifacts from the ancient Acropolis of Sparta and the surrounding area. It is also one of Greece's oldest archaeology museums.

As one explores the town of Sparta, one will see the defiant statue of King Leonidas as he hefts his sword and shield.

The collection at the museum span a massive amount of time from the Neolithic times to the late Roman era. The seven rooms at the museum only display a small amount of the collection actually there. In July 2020 plans were approved to build a new Archaeological Museum of Sparta as the existing one just can't exhibit its massive collection.

  • Built: 1874-1876
  • Opening Hours: Summer Season: 9 am to 4 pm June to October (Tuesday to Sunday) | Winter Season: 8 am to 3 pm November to May (Tuesday to Sunday)
  • Date Range: 1100 BC to 324 AD

This Is Sparta!

While Sparta may be bigger than life in history and their strong, masculine, and militaristic way of life looms romantically for many folks today, the Acropolis of Sparta today is rather underwhelming.

Visit the Acropolis of Sparta today and only a few buildings that are standing actually date from the height of Sparta's greatness. Today the acropolis and agora contain many later buildings. The ruins date from the 8th century BC until the Roman period (and there are remains of later Byzantine churches). If visiting Rome, there are many great Roman ruins to explore that are not the colosseum.

There's an ancient theater, the Sanctuary of Athena Halkioitou, and more. To the north of the modern town of Sparta are the remains of the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

  • Site Hours: 8:30 am-4 pm Wed-Mon
  • Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia: This Was Where Spartan Boys Where Once Flogged Until They Bled - The Bravest Were Given Bronze Sickles

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The ruins for the various buildings at Sparta are not large attractions and some of the sites like the theater are largely overgrown.

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Tours Of Sparta

Ancient Sparta & Mystras Private Day Tour from Athens

One of the best ways to explore the site is with an actual guided tour. This tour helps visitors discover the history of Laconia (the region of which Sparta is a part). This tour visits Sparta from where Leonidas reigned (as a co-king, the other co-king was King Leotychidas).

  • Included: Private Transportation with Hotel Pickup and Drop-off
  • Not Included: Entrance Tickets
  • Licensed Tour Guide: The Driver Has a Detailed Knowledge Of History (250 € extra for a Licensed Tour Guide)
  • Cost: From $250.00

Sparta - Bred for Battle! The Legendary Period

This tour includes highlights of Spartan history including the birthplace of Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, the famous Corinth Canal, and much more.

  • Duration: 8 Hours
  • Included: Private Transportation with Hotel Pickup and Drop-off
  • Not Included: Entrance Tickets
  • Licensed Tour Guide: The Driver Has a Detailed Knowledge Of History (extra for a Licensed Tour Guide)
  • Customizable: This Tour Is Customizable

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