megaron and its associated complex of buildings near the summit. Most of the palace has been lost.

The citadel survived an attack around 1200 b.c. only to be destroyed, possibly by invading Dorians, about a century later. The walls were not pulled down and the buildings outside, found near every Helladic acropolis, were not deserted. It seems that Mycenae was continuously occupied in some form until about 468 b.c., when the small preclassical city built on the ruins of the ancient citadel was destroyed by Argos and its population banished. The city was briefly reoccupied in the third century b.c. A new temple was built at the summit of the acropolis and the city wall repaired. There is some evidence of Roman occupation, but when the Greek traveler Pausanias visited the region around a.d. 160, he found only ruins. Serious archeological investigations began in 1841 and have continued intermittently.

See also

Treasury of Atreus

Further reading

Fitton, J. Lesley. 1996. The Discovery of the Greek Bronze Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mylonas, George E. 1966. Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Simpson, Richard Hope. 1981. Mycenaean Greece. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press.

Mystra, Greece

The ruins of the medieval city of Mystra are 3 miles (5 kilometers) northwest of modern Sparta in the Peloponnese. In 1204 the Fourth Crusade, turned aside from its original purpose by Venetian bribes, sacked Constantinople and established Frankish dominion over Greek territories. Among the most important states they founded was the Principality of the Morea, or the Principality of Achaea, governed from 1210 by Geoffroi I de Villehardouin. In 1249 his second son, Guillaume II de Villehardouin, built a castle atop a steep cone-shaped foothill overlooking the fertile valley of Eurotas and strategically commanding the Taygetos Range to the west and the valley of Laconia to the east.

Over the next few centuries the city of Mystra grew on the slopes below. Its name probably comes from the shape of the hill, which resembled a Myzethra cheese. Mystra, with a population that once exceeded 42,000, has been dubbed the “wonder of the Morea.” Like Venice, but for different reasons, it occupies a site that is totally inappropriate for a city, and its construction was a significant architectural achievement.

In 1261 the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus regained Constantinople. The following year, Guillaume II de Villehardouin paid his ransom—he had been captured in 1259—with a number of castles including Mystra, and Michael VIII installed a Byzantine despot. The Villehardouin line survived until 1301, when Philip of Savoy became Prince of Morea. Throughout most of the fourteenth century the principality was in the hands of the Angevin House of Naples, and then controlled by the Venetians. The Byzantines regained it through matrimonial and political alliances and in 1448 Constantine XI Paleologus, the last Byzantine emperor, was crowned at Mystra. For about 350 years after 1460 Turks and Venetians took and retook the city. In 1821 it was among the first places the Greeks liberated from their Turkish oppressors. Ironically, the demise of Mystra was brought about by the foundation of the modern town of Sparta in 1834. The first inhabitants came from the old city; others built the modern village of Mystra.

Mystra has had a tumultuous history, and the different traditions of its occupiers account for its hybridized architecture. In the mid–thirteenth century, the Byzantines’ persistent attempts to expel the Franks caused anxiety among the local populace. Many left the Eurotas plain to settle closer to the castle of Mystra. Houses were built on the lower slopes of the hill, and soon churches were constructed, clinging to the mountainside. This precipitous medieval city was surrounded by inner and outer circuit walls, commissioned in 1249 by Guillaume II de Villehardouin, and later repaired and augmented by the Byzantines and the Turks when they occupied the city. The walls were fortified by high rectangular towers, and of course dominated by the castle. They can hardly be described as concentric, because they snaked along contours and plummeted down steep slopes; nevertheless, they contained and defended the city. On its northeast and west sides the craggy hill