Mystras has been commanding Peloponnese for over two centuries. It was built during the period of the Frankish domination, in 1249 by Villehardouin II, on the top of the eponymous hill. But captured Villehardouin was forced to concede it to Michael Palaeologusin return for his release.Mystras gradually expanded and this is why it has two rows of walls. In the 14th century, it became the capital of Peloponnese and the seat of the Despotate of Morea. Manuel Cantacuzenus, son of Ioannis Katakouzinos, was the first despot of Mystras.
Despite constant threats, Mystras thrived and became a centre of culture. George Gemistos Plethon founded a school of philosophy at Mystras. In 1449 this castle city hosted the coronation of Constantinos Palaeologus who later participated in battles which led to the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
Today, you can see the fortifications of this castle city, its gates such as Sideroporta ("Iron Gate"), the palaces of the Cantacuzenus and Palaeologus families and some churches (church of Pantanassa, Panaghia Odigitria, Aghioi Theodoroi and Aghia Sophia).