About the Port
The ancient town of Gytheion or Gythium is now known as Gytheio and is in the former municipality of Laconia in the Peloponnese area of Greece. The ancient port was destroyed in the 4th Century AD by an earthquake, marauding Visigoths or a combination of both - there is no consensus about this. In Roman times the port exported purple dye, porphyry and antique marble. The city was well-to-do and had an Acropolis and a theatre.
The town grew rapidly as a result of the arrival of refugees during the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) and it had a population estimated at 2,000 in 1910 and 4,717 in 2011.
Its main attraction as a port of call for cruises is it's proximity to the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta 25 miles to the north which it served as the major seaport.
Moldavia arrived in Gythion today Thursday 13 August at 07:00 and will sail for Bizerta this afternoon at 13:00.
The next leg of our journey to Bizerta is about 610 nautical miles and we expect to arrive at about 07:00 Saturday 15 August.
P&O provided a leaflet about Gythion as an introduction for visitors which is reproduced below.
Mystras - Palaces of the Despots
Mystras (also known as Mistras or Myzithras, is a fortified town in Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece on the edge of Mount Taygetos and near the ancient Greek state of Sparta. It is approximately 25 miles as the crow flies from Gythion. It was the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of the Morea in the 14th and 15th Centuries and remained populated throughout the Ottoman Period. It was abandoned in the 1830s and a new town Sparti built nearby. The history of this region is so complicated that I am not even going to attempt to summarise it.
The album postcard below shows the Palaces of the Despots at Mystras.
The modern photo below shows the same place in 2018. Some of the palaces have been virtually rebuilt rather than preserved. It is difficult to understand how this was allowed to happen to such a historic site.
The album photo below is captioned 'The road through Sparta to Mystra'
The album photo below is captioned 'Through Mystra - Sparta'
The album photo below is captioned 'The Spartan Valley'. I suspect this was taken from Mystra looking towards Vasiliki but am not sure.
The album photo below is captioned 'Pandanassus - Gythion' and shows the lady named elsewhere as 'Poppy' sitting next to a column. The correct name of the place is Pantanassa Monastery which is in Mystras.
The album photo below is captioned 'Colonnade at Pandanassus' and must be the Pantanassa Monastery as in the previous image.
The album postcard below shows the entrance to the colonnade at the Pantanassa Monastery Church and is looking in the opposite direction to the previous image - i.e. from beyond where the man is standing.
The photo below is a recent one. The dome over the colonnade seems to have been rebuilt with terra cotta tiles whereas in 1936 it seems smooth. Mystras has more than its fair share of philistines.
The album postcard below shows another view of the Pantanassa Monastery Church.
I have been unable to locate a modern photo with the same viewpoint but this shows the same area from a different angle.
The Peribleptos Monastery was founded between the years 1365 and 1374 by Manuel Kantakouzenos the first despot of Mistra and his wife Isabelle de Lusignan and dedicated to 'The All-seeing Virgin Mary'. It is located at the southeastern edge of the city and was constructed as a distyle cross-in-square church, which as everyone will know, means that the dome is supported by two columns on the west and the wall of the sanctuary on the east.
The two postcards below show the Peribleptos Monastery at Mystra as it was in 1936.
The recent image below shows the monastery from a different viewpoint. It seems to have been restored more sensitively than some of the other old buildings in the area.