The Essential Guide to Thessaloniki

the essential guide to Thessaloniki, Greece

After sharing with you all the delicious things I ate in Thessaloniki, it’s time for a more comprehensive guide! To recap: Thessaloniki is Greece’s second largest city located in the region of Macedonia in Northern Greece. Unlike Athens, Thessaloniki wasn’t a famous city in ancient times, as the Macedonian Kings had chosen different cities as their base: Aeges, Phillipi, Pydna. The city flourished under Roman rule and even more during the Byzantine era. The Byzantine legacy is prominent all over the city and its monuments constitute part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Things to see and do in Thessaloniki

Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum houses individual works of art as well as excavation findings from the wider region of Macedonia. The exhibits are organized in 6 distinct collections: Prehistoric Macedonia, Genesis of the Cities, Macedonia from 7th century BC up to late antiquity, Thessaloniki: a Macedonian metropolis, Macedonian Gold (probably the best part of the exhibits) and Field, House, Garden, Place.

Museum of Byzantine Culture

Museum of Byzantine culture Thessaloniki Museum of Byzantine culture Thessaloniki

The Museum of Byzantine Culture opened its doors back in 1994 and is housed in an exquisite building designed by architect and painter Kyriakos Krokos. The museum is organized in 11 halls where the aspects of Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture are presented through exhibits from Thessaloniki and the region of Macedonia. Artifacts date from 4th century BC up to the 19th century.

The White Tower

The White Tower is Thessaloniki’s symbol or “logo” so to speak. The current tower replaced an old Byzantine fortification, which was reconstructed by the Ottomans to fortify the city’s harbor; it became a notorious prison and scene of mass executions during the period of Ottoman rule. It was substantially remodeled and its exterior was whitewashed after Greece annexed the city in 1912.

Although I’ve visited Thessaloniki many times due to having family there, I’d never been up to the White Tower until now. The views from the Tower, especially towards the sea side promenade, are amazing. The next spot though will provide you with even better vistas over the city.

The Telecommunications (OTE) Tower

View from Telecommunications tower

The OTE Tower (OTE stands for Greek Telecommunications Organization) is another symbolic site, built in 1970 in the entrance of Thessaloniki’s Exhibition Center, where the Thessaloniki International Fair, an annual commercial exhibition event, takes place. The Tower has a rotating café on the 5th floor. The view is amazing (360 degrees as well) but the café needs renovation. Nearby you’ll also find the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art, the first modern art museum in Greece.

Byzantine and Roman monuments

There are two monuments that remain from the Roman era: Galerius arch – also known as Kamara (pictured above on the right) – and the Roman forum. During the Byzantine era, many churches were built in Thessaloniki and some of them are included in  UNESCO’s  World Heritage Sites List. One of these churches is Hagia Sofia (pictured above on the left) which was built in 7th century AD.

Aristotelous Square

This is Thessaloniki’s “central square”, which opens up to the sea providing a marvelous line of sight to Mount Olympus (home of the Ancient Gods), which you can spot on a totally clear day. The square was designed by French architect and urban planner Ernest Hébrard, after a major fire destroyed large part of Thessaloniki in 1917. It took its final form in the 60’s when the “twin” buildings of Electra Palace Hotel and Olympion cinema were completed. The aerial image of the place was used in an Absolut Vodka print advertisement a few years back.

Seaside Promenade (Palaia & Nea Paralia)

Nikis avenue at dusk, Thessaloniki

The seaside promenade starts at the Port and ends at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. The old part of the promenade (Port to White Tower) was created in 1873 after the demolition of the city’s southern walls.

The “new” part from the White Tower to Concert Hall was formed in the late 50’s with the creation of a new boulevard parallel to the sea front. Walking along the promenade you’ll come across the Royal Theater, a statue of Alexander the Great on his horse, a sculpture with Umbrellas by George Zoggolopoulos – a renowned Greek sculptor – and thematic gardens that are part of the promenade’s redevelopment project.

Thessaloniki’s Architecture

As a sucker for eclectistic architecture and intricate details I couldn’t resist snapping many of Thessaloniki’s beautiful buildings. This is just a small sample of the buildings I shot, located in the city center.


Thessaloniki offers many shopping options from luxury brands, to high street brands, to intimate boutiques. Tsimiski street is the main shopping street, where you will find stores like Zara, H&M, and department stores. Parallel to Tsimiski street and closer to the sea front there are Mitropoleos and Proxenou Koromila streets, with shoe and accessories stores, as well as small boutiques and luxury brands like Louis Vuitton. Of course, you can wander off these main hubs: you will definitely come across various interesting shops in the surrounding area.

Where to eat

outside Sugar Angel cafe

Take a look at the foodie guide with all the places I visited during my latest visit in Thessaloniki (and recommend) on my previous post for your reading (and viewing) pleasure.

Suggested excursions

Thessaloniki is located centrally within the region of Macedonia and is ideal for many excursions in nearby cities, beaches and archaeological sites.

Sani resort, Chalkidiki

Chalkidiki is the region with the characteristic 3 peninsulas that you see on the map, southeast of Thessaloniki. The first two peninsulas have beautiful beaches, hotels and resorts such as  Sani, Pefkochori, Paliouri, Chanioti and Poseidi in the Kassandra peninsula and Vourvourou, Porto Koufo, Paradise and Nikiti in Sithonia peninsula. The 3rd peninsula is Mount Athos (also known as Holy Mountain) which has 20 monasteries and is a semi-autonomous region. Access is heavily restricted and monitored and only men can visit Mount Athos.

Vergina is probably the most significant archaeological site in the region of Macedonia. In the late 70s Prof. Manolis Andronikos discovered total 4 tombs with valuable (golden) artifacts, as two of the tombs were not raided. One of those non-raided tombs is attributed (after much research) to Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great.

Mount Olympus is Greece’s tallest mountain (2918m) and “house” of the ancient Greek gods. The mountain has many hiking trails and on its feet, you’ll find the archaeological site of Dion, which was a significant city in ancient Macedonia.

Kavala, Greece

Kavala is a major city in northern Greece located 165 km east of Thessaloniki. The city’s history begins in the antiquity; it grew dramatically during the Roman and Byzantine era thanks to the proximity to Via Egnatia (a road that ran from the Adriatic Sea to Constantinople – present day Istanbul). Kavala was the first European city to be visited by Apostle Paul and is also the birthplace of  Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of modern Egypt, who created a Koranic school in the city. This school ceased to operate in the 1930s and nowadays is restored and operates as luxury hotel, called Imaret.

If you do make your way to Vergina then Edessa and Naoussa are pretty close to visit too, especially if you like water! You see, Edessa has impressive waterfalls (well, for Greece’s standards) and Naoussa, has a beautiful park/forest called Aghios Nikolaos where you can walk around and dine in the nearby restaurants while watching (and hearing) the water flow.

P.S. Linking up to Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and  My Travel Monkey, Travel Tuesday

Follow me on Follow for more travel guides/tips and suggestions !

Travel Monkey

Brunch in Mama Roux, Athens

Mama Roux Athens

Brunch is a concept that I fully immersed myself in last year while living in Boston. I remember being amazed at the queues I’ve encountered outside Sound Bites in Somerville, but when I did visit I understood that they wait was totally worth it. I visited on a week day though so I didn’t encounter any queues! Athens is slowly catching up on the brunch trend and there are many places in the city where you brunch is involved (eggs involved) but for me, there was one restaurant I absolutely wanted to visit: Mama Roux.

Mama Roux opened its doors 4 years ago in a small industrial looking space in Aiolou street. Its cuisine is branded as international as it’s a mix of Cajun/Creole, French, Greek and Mediterranean, Mexican, Middle Eastern and Tex-Mex with vegetarian and vegan options and a brunch menu for Sundays. The brunch in particular is very popular and it’s recommended that you make a reservation at least one day before (hint: that’s what I did too).

burger for brunch at Mama Roux Athens Croque Madame for brunch at Mama Roux Athens

The brunch menu consist of a egg dishes: Benedict, Croque Madame and omelettes to name a few, burgers, salads and of course pancakes! I tried a Bellini with fresh squeezed orange juice (which makes all the difference) and Croque Madame with tomato, mozzarella and pesto. My husband got an orange juice with burger. Both were very delicious and can’t wait to return and to try more from the menu!

In true blogger style, I had to combine my experience about brunch in Athens with an outfit post! Note that this was shot back in mid October when I still wore short sleeved tops! Mind you, the high temperature is still in the 20s (degrees Celcius)! On that day I wore this quirky peach colored Guess waistcoat, blue pants from Ann Taylor, tank to from Hollister, bag and watch from Folli Follie.

After the brunch we walked up to Lycabettus Hill ring road (to burn off the calories) via Sina street were I had checked out a building I had spotted and loved (it’s currently my favorite building in Athens). From there we made our way to Syntagma passing through Kolonaki!

Foodie guide to Thessaloniki

Foodie Guide to Thessaloniki

Last month, I spent 4 days in Thessaloniki, which is the second largest city in Greece. Located on Thermaikos gulf, Thessaloniki is a city open to the sea, well-known for its relaxed culture, seaside promenade and delicious food. I have many photos from the city to share with you, as well as tips on things to do and see, but I decided to start with the fun part first: a foodie guide to the city!

B. (at the Byzantine museum)

B. cafe restaurant Thessaloniki

The Byzantine museum of Thessaloniki is probably the No.1 Museum you should visit in the city. It’s not only very interesting but architecturally pleasing as well. On top of that it has a top-notch restaurant-cafe called B., which is open daily for coffee/lunch/dinner/cocktails and is independent from the museum, which means you can visit any time! You will find B. at G’ Septemvriou 2, Thessaloniki.


I got to know Blé from its Cretan style desserts called Kaltsounia (or Lychnarakia) which a colleague brought back from a trip to Thessaloniki. That was 4 years ago. Since then this bakery/ patisserie was on my wish list and I wasn’t disappointed. I tried the Belgian milk chocolate dessert pictured above, which was delicious!

Brothers in Law

Brothers in Law burger, Thessaloniki Brothers in Law burger, Thessaloniki

Brothers in Law is a no fuss burger restaurant in Pavlou Mela street. The menu has many options to choose from and I loved that you can choose the size of the burger: 90gr or 180 gr. I chose the smaller size and for once I was able to eat everything that was on my plate. The burger I got is called Acapulco and consists of ground beef, cheddar, tomato, lime & black pepper mayonnaise, guacamole and bacon.


Candy bar Thessaloniki

I had spotted this cute cafe/bar in Stylishly Beautiful so when I met with Markella from Do You Speak Gossip she suggested we go there for a hot chocolate (and some marshmallows which are complimentary with every order).

Electra Palace Roof Garden

Aristotelous square, Thessaloniki

First and foremost Electra Palace’s roof garden is a nice place to watch the sunset in Thessaloniki. Here you can dine or have a coffee with beautiful views over Aristotelous square and the seaside promenade.


Estia bakery patisserie Thessaloniki

Estia is a bakery/patisserie on Pavlou Mela street near the White Tower. Its windows are very enticing featuring delicious desserts!

Gialos (Γιαλός), Kalamaria

Gialos restaurant Kalamaria

Gialos is a fish restaurant by the sea in Kalamaria, about 7km from Thessaloniki city center. This area has a lot of restaurants and a few ones are literally next to the sea. Gialos is one of them! On a sunny and warm day you can sit outside and enjoy your meal listening to the waves splashing and the seagulls squawking.


Local is a modern restaurant with an extensive wine list in Pavlou Mela street. It has a variety of dishes, from risotto to steak and seafood. I got the Chicken Wings with sweetchili and wakame and it was very tasty!

Sugar Angel

I discovered this cute cafe on Aegean Airline’s magazine on my way to Thessaloniki and I visited on my last day there. The cake I tried (called Anatoli) was amazing! Sugar Angel is located in a tiny pedestrian street in the heart of the shopping area making it an ideal stop for a pre- or post-shopping treat.


Terkenlis Bakery/Patisserie Thessaloniki

You cannot visit Thessaloniki without stopping at this bakery and trying their tsoureki (sweet brioche bread) with white or milk chocolate ganache and chestnut or chocolate filling respectively. It’s a custom for us Athenians to bring one of these breads back home and even better share one with our colleagues!!

The Last Slice

And last but not least (pun not intended) a small pizza place in Proxenou Kolomila street. I stopped there with Markella and her boyfriend for a bite before heading home. It’s ideal for a quick meal and the best part is that the pizza crust is really thin so it doesn’t get you bloated!

So this is just as small guide of the types of restaurants and patisseries you are going to come across in Thessaloniki! Stay tuned for more tips about things to do in this lovely city!

P.S. Linking up to Weekend Wanderlust , Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and  My Travel Monkey, Travel Tuesday

Follow me on Follow for more travel guides/tips and suggestions + join my newsletter via the form below!

Travel Monkey

A walk from SoHo to World Trade Center, New York City

A walk from Soho to World Trade Center, New York City

Looking through my New York City photos I realized there is one more walk I’d like to share with you: from SoHo to One World Trade Center via Little Italy and TriBeCa. I also realized that I’ve walked a pretty good part of Manhattan’s west side from Columbia University to Battery Park missing only a few spots in Hell’s Kitchen. Next time I visit New York City I should probably explore the East Side more! Now let’s get on with our walk.


My walk started from Houston street and it’s actually a continuation of my Greenwich Village wanderings. SoHo is probably my favorite (window) shopping area in New York City. It’s cozy, has nice buildings and nice boutiques. I also popped in a couple of galleries and checked out Laduree. Too bad I already had a cupcake in Magnolia Bakery or I would have gone in and get my hands on some pastel colored macarons.

My walk didn’t follow an exact pattern, I just zig zag-ed my way from Houston Street to Spring Street, checking out windows and snapping photos of the iron cast buildings before stopping to Vive la Crepe (on Spring Street and Mulberry) for a hot chocolate.

Little Italy + TriBeCa

Then I spotted the Little Italy sign from afar. Sure I’ve passed by the area on a previous visit to New York City but never the street with the sign (I think it’s Mulberry), so I made my way there for some photos. After that small deviation and consulting Google Maps I saw that I had to walk west again in order to reach One World Trade Center, so I made my way towards TriBeCa with a stop at Opening Ceremony on Howard Street, because I just had to!

Little Italy, New York City

Little Italy is full of Italian restaurants (no wonder), but I must admit that I didn’t have much luck with them in the past. My favorite Italian restaurant is Il Buco and can be found in NoHo.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

When I first visited New York City in 2010 the World Trade Center area was just a big construction place. Fast forward to last Christmas (2014) when I finally saw One World Trade Center in New York’s skyline. I also visited the memorial pools in the places where the original Twin Towers were standing.

9/11 Memorial pool

And that’s were my walk ended, before hopping on the metro and heading (north) to Il Buco mentioned above for dinner!

Interested in more New York City walks? Then check out my posts on Greenwich Village, Brooklyn & Williamsburg and the Upper West Side.

Have you walked around SoHo and TriBeCa? Which is your favorite area in NYC to walk?

P.S. Linking up to Weekend Wanderlust , Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and  My Travel Monkey, Travel Tuesday

Follow me on Follow for more travel guides/tips and suggestions + join my newsletter via the form below!

Travel Monkey

Teresa Degleri: Greek crochet jewels traveling to Amsterdam

Teresa Degleri SIERAAD exhibition Amsterdam

In the early days of this blog, I shared with you Teresa Degleri’s modern crochet jewelry! Next month Teresa will represent – among others – Greece in SIERAAD 2015, the international exhibition of artistic jewelry, which will take place 5-8 November 2015, in Amsterdam.

In Teresa’s work, the synthesis of contrasts in colors and materials used, as well as the tradition of homemade craft, act as an antidote to sorrow and the crisis. Her work transcends the limitations of traditional crochet embroidery and sends a message tantamount to the joy of life, an inherent element of Greek culture since Homeric times: Light conquers darkness and joy conquers grief!

Teresa Degleri SIERAAD exhibition Amsterdam

With a loop and a hook as her only tools, the Greek creator revives a long abandoned traditional art, highlighting the complexity of her technique and skillfully exposing the possibilities of her material in creating three-dimensional knitwear resembling sculptures! Teresa participates in the SIERAAD exhibition as part of the Greek artists’ group “Myths”, a group known for its participation and distinctions in artistic jewelry exhibitions in Munich, Berlin and Hamburg.

Last year Teresa was the only Greek participant in the international exhibition TENDENCE 2014 in Frankfurt, in the section “TALENTS”, among 20 designers selected from all over Europe.

If you happen to be in Amsterdam next month, do keep the SIERAAD exhibition in mind. You will find more information (and photos) of Teresa’s work in her website and Facebook page.

A walk in Upper West Side, NYC

a walk in Upper West Side, New York City

Keeping up with my walks around New York City, here’s the longest one that I undertook. I spent a whole morning walking down the Upper West Side from Columbia University down to Columbus Circus (with a break for lunch). In my past visits in New York City I passed by the area with the hop on hop off bus, but didn’t remember a thing. I did some research on what to see (architecture mainly) and then set out on my walk!

Columbia University + Morningside Heights

Columbia University, New YorkButler Library at Columbia University , New York

I made Columbia University my starting point since I wanted to explore the grounds of this Ivy League university (which makes it the 3rd Ivy League institution that I visit after Harvard and Brown). On top of that  Buzzfeed has listed Butler Library among the 49 breathtaking Libraries from all over the world.

Butler Library at Columbia University , New York

I didn’t get in the library though, I just lurked around the campus snapping photos of the buildings and some Japanese lanterns I found on the grounds. I also admired the view from Morningside Park and realized that Manhattan isn’t a totally flat island and there is a reason why this area is called Morningside Heights!

Upper West Side

decorative architectural detail on Upper West Side, New York City

For the my journey from Columbia University to 83rd W street I alternated between Broadway, West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, checking out notable buildings in the perpendicular streets and shooting photos of architectural details. You will notice that this walk is much more photo heavy than the one in Brooklyn, which proves my point that I’m driven to decorative details and interesting architecture.

decorative architectural detail on Upper West Side, New York City

The quirkiest place to check out in Upper West Side is Pomander Walk, which is an apartment complex different from the tall buildings that surround it. My favorite place in the area though is the cafe where I had lunch: Café Lalo. I was tipped about this place by a friend of mine, who added that this café is featured in the movie “You’ve got mail”. I love this place for the French flair and the delicious desserts. My “light” lunch consisted of a grilled croissant – sandwich with roasted potatoes and a slice of pecan pie (delicious)! I was now ready to move south!

Central Park + Columbus Circus

Central Park, New York City

My next stop was the Central Park as I longed to see it (somewhat) in bloom. This was my 3rd visit in NYC and still I haven’t had the opportunity to visit during late spring or summer when the trees will be green, but I was content with daffodils, wildflowers and magnolias! I made my way towards the Belvedere Castle, which is one of my favorite spots in the park and has amazing view over Turtle Pond.

Columbus Circle, New York City

Columbus Circus was the last stop of my Upper West Side exploration. Again it was a place I hadn’t explored in the past, so I walked around the circus, admired the Time Warner Center, the globe “sculpture” on the north side of the circus and a super cute ice cream truck.

Have you walked on the Upper East Side? What did you like the most?

If you’re interested in more walking routes in New York City, check out A walk around Greenwich Village and A walk in Brooklyn & Williamsburg.

flowers in Upper West Side, New York City

Columbus Circle, New York City

P.S. Linking up to Travel Tuesday

Follow me on Follow for more travel guides/tips and suggestions!

A walk in Brooklyn & Williamsburg

a walk in Brooklyn and Williamsburg

When I revisit a city for second or third time I tend to visit some old favorites (neighborhoods or restaurants) and explore new places as well! In the case of New York City, Greenwich village has been my favorite neighborhood, which I tend to re-visit, but Brooklyn and Williamsburg were (almost) new to me and I was eager to explore those neighborhoods back in April, since I had heard so much about them!

Brooklyn Heights, New York City

I started my walk from Downtown Brooklyn (Jay St – Metro Tech station) and walked towards Brooklyn Heights. This neighborhood is filled with brownstone buildings which once belonged to artist and writers. At this point I should say that I’ve researched most of my NYC walks on a blog called Walking Off the Big Apple which I discovered 6 years ago when planning my first trip to New York City. That’s were I read about Brooklyn Heights and decided I should definitely see the place with my own eyes. Apart from exploring the residential area I was more than eager to walk around the Brooklyn Bridge Park and admire the Lower Manhattan Skyline, which is exactly what I did before walking towards DUMBO.

Related: 7 things I enjoyed in New York City 

View of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn

No, I’m not talking about Disney’s cute flying elephant; I’m talking about the area called Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (aka DUMBO). Those New Yorkers are very inventive with their abbreviations I must admit! The area is a mix of residential, commercial and storage buildings. All I really wanted was a shot of Manhattan Bridge before going north to Williamsburg! The funny thing is that in order to get to Williamsburg from DUMBO I had to take the metro back to Manhattan, and then take another metro to get there!

Street art in Williamsburg, New York

I got off at Bedford Avenue metro station, which according to my research is the heart of Williamsburg. It was a sunny day, a fact that helped me go through the neighborhood extensively! I walked up to Mc Carren park, along Bedford Avenue and Wythe Avenue (among others) and took photos of Midtown Manhattan from Bushwick Inlet Park!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Williamsburg is indeed an up and coming neighborhood as construction sites were everywhere! The new buildings have a modern vibe and they mix with older ones too, though I should say that, personally, architecture-wise I wasn’t that impressed. I expected (because of the hype) that Williamsburg would knock Greenwich Village off my top spot. That didn’t happen though! Still it’s worth a visit for shopping and entertainment (and those views)!

What I enjoyed the most in Williamsburg was the colorful street art! I took many photos, from which I include my 2 absolute favorites. I also checked out some “must-see” shops like Urban Outfitter’s concept store Space Ninety 8, the Catbird (with dainty but expensive jewelry) and Mast Brothers Chocolate. I ended off my visit with lunch at Sweet Chick (which I chose based on the name).

Street art in Williamsburg, New York

Have you visited Brooklyn and Williamsburg? What did you like the most?

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Restaurant in Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn , New York

Mast Brothers Chocolate

P.S. Linking up to Weekend Wanderlust , Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and  My Travel Monkey, Travel Tuesday

Follow me on Follow for more travel guides/tips and suggestions + join my newsletter via the form below!

Travel Monkey

5 fall styles I’m loving right now

While patiently waiting for fall to roll in for real (high temperature is still around 25 degrees Celcius) there are 5 fall styles I’m currently drawn to. I tend to avoid trends unless I totally adore them (like white less) and usually choose “classic” styles that are relevant in any year and season.

The fall styles I’m liking right now are: Breton stripes, ankle boots, statement necklaces (that’s a year round favorite), faux leather skirt and my trusty parka.

Breton Stripes

fall style: breton striped top

I always liked stripes more than any other pattern out there! The “classic” white and blue combination tops my list. Fun fact: did you know that the Breton stripe started off as French sailors uniform? It was Coco Chanel who introduced this particular stripe in the world of fashion!

Ankle Boots

fall style: black ankle boots

Ankle boots top my lists as fall/winter/early spring footwear. Winters in Athens don’t get that cold (I’m looking at you Boston) so that means I can wear ankle boots all (winter) season long. I have a few pairs with various heels. Those pictured where bought from DSW in Boston and are the most comfortable ones I own!

Statement Necklace

fall style: statement necklace

Whether it is store-bought (the pictured one is from Accessorize) or DIYed, a statement necklace can elevate any outfit!

Related: DIY Statement Necklace tutorial

Faux Leather Skirt

fall style: faux leather skirt

I didn’t know I “needed” a faux leather skirt until I got this one two years ago. Since then it proved to be my go to skirt for fall and spring.


fall style: parka

Last but not least, this parka from Zara has been a constant travel companion for the last 2 years. It’s biggest asset is the removable faux fur layer (not pictured), which makes it very versatile in changing weather conditions!

Your turn: what styles are you currently loving?

Exploring Mystras

Mystras castle town, Peloponnese, Greece

Today we’re going to explore yet another Byzantine castle town of the Peloponnese: Mystras, which played an important role in the Byzantine Empire during its final centuries, until it fell to the Ottomans in 1460. Mystras location and view are breathtaking as you get to see the plains of Sparta (the hometown of King Leonidas and the 300 warriors who fought at Thermopylae)! Mystras is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mystras’ History

Mystras was founded in 1249 by the ruler of the Frankish Principality of Achaea William II of Villehardouin, who built a strong fortress atop the naturally fortified hill of Myzithra in Sparta. Byzantines reclaimed the Peloponnese (and Mystras) in 1262 and became the rulers of the fortress. From then onward a brilliant period started for this medieval fortress state: the hill filled with houses, mansions and palaces, churches and monasteries and the densely populated city was enclosed by two walls.

Mystras castle town, Peloponnese, Greece

After the mid-14th century, when members of the imperial family of Constantinopole assumed rule over Mystras – the Kantakouzenoi (1348-1383) and the Palaiologoi (1383-1460) – the Despotate (as it was called) flourished and developed into an important cultural center closely connected with Constantinopole.

Mystras castle town, Peloponnese, Greece

Mystras’ decline started after 1460 when the Ottomans took over the Byzantine empire. The Venetians occupied it from 1687 to 1715, but otherwise the Ottomans held it until 1821 and the beginning of the Greek War of Independence. It was abandoned under King Otto for the newly rebuilt town of Sparta in 1834.

Mystras Today


Unlike Monemvasia, Mystras was attacked and destructed many times and with the creation of Sparta the historical town was abandoned. Today the visitor gets to wander (and literally hike) among the ruins and visit the churches that are preserved and marvel the Byzantine frescoes. The Pantanassa monastery (prominent in the post’s first photo) in the middle of the “town” provides the visitor with amazing views over Sparta’s plain.

The archaeological site has 2 entrances: one for the lower part of the city and one for the upper part of the city the fortress (because hiking can take a really long time). The latter entrance provides access to Hagia Sofia church and the ruins of the church mint. In this upper part of the city one can also see the Palace where the lords of Mystras resided, but unfortunately entrance is prohibited due to ongoing restoration.

Mystras is a 2,5 hour drive from Athens and just a 10 minute drive from Sparta. It’s beautiful during spring time, but I found it equally imposing in late summer/early autumn. Practical information about the archaeological site can be found in the Ministry of Culture’s website.

Interested in more sites in the Peloponnese? Then check out my posts about Nafplio, Monemvasia and Elafonisos!

Mystras castle town, Peloponnese, Greece

P.S. Linking up to Weekend Wanderlust , Travel Tuesday

Follow me on Follow for more travel guides/tips and suggestions!

The denim shirt dress

denim shirt dress

Denim is one of my favorite fabrics especially for trousers. Lately I’ve been adding more denim items in my wardrobe starting off with a denim shirt and now with this denim shirt dress. It’s a little shorter than I’d like it to be (and that’s the main reason I’m not wearing it with a belt), but I love the color and lightweight feel of this dress which makes it ideal for transitional seasons like fall and spring!

I wore the denim shirt dress the other day, while visiting museums in Athens, something I haven’t done for a long time! I visited the National Archaeological Museum and the Byzantine+Christian Museum, which were renovated for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games look very sleek (especially the Byzantine one). I paired the dress with Folli Follie hoop earrings and my most comfortable ballet flats from Kalogirou (a well known Greek luxury footwear brand).

Here’s a small glimpse of what I saw in the Museums…proper posts will follow in my Aspects of Athens blog!

Wall painting from Acrotiri, Santorini in National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Tell me, do you like denim as much as I do?

Follow me on Follow for more style inspiration!

old gospel at Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

P.S. Linking up to What I Wore, I Will Wear What I Like

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 19 |