Gythio: Gythio is built on the slopes of low mountain Koumaros, on the east section and 46klm south of Sparti. It’s a cultural and trading center of Laconia, on the west side of the Laconic Gulf, and it has a big port, many picturesque two-floor houses and great history. Named Marathonisi during the Ottomanic possesion, the ancient name Gythio came back after the revolution in 1821. Standing on semi-mountainous semi-low land ground, Gythio produces citrus-fruits, cereals, wine and olive-oil. Trade, smaller industries and of course the development of tourism are the main interests that keep the inhabitants busy. Across the city you will find a small verdulous island, Kranai, known in the Middle Ages as Marathonisi. In the center of Kranai you will find the castle of Tzannibey, built during the last years of the Ottomanic posession. At the town entrance you will find the remainings of an ancient theatre (built of local marble), proofing that the place was full of cultural life. Every year during the summer months of July and August you can watch the Gythio Festival of Ancient Drama. There are two archeological museums exhibiting findings of the ancient, Roman and Byzantite years, and excavations brought up canonicals, devotional objects and paintings of saints.
Ancient Gythio was placed on the north side of today’s city (now called Paleopolis) near the ruins of the Roman arena theatre – where prehestorical fossils have been found, mycenean conches and obsidian blades, 100m from the beach. In this place it is believed that an ancient village existed at some point, formed by Achaians, while it’s also believed that the Phoenicians created a trading station in Gythio, exploiting the laver corches which were plenty across the Laconic coasts. Gythio is also attached mythically with Helen’s of Troy snatch by Paris. Just like in the whole of Greece, Gythio also has great and turbulent history. After the descenting of Dorians and when Athens and Sparti were in war, Athens took command of Gythio (up to then it was ruled by Sparti)and destroyed the port to block the Spartians from developing navy force. Later on, the Spartians fortified the city and the port and made them impenetra- ble. It was the place were all of Mani’s products were traded and the place that educted “lapis laecedemonius” and had facilities for the eduction of purpurial. Bankers and traders created their own community and the coins that were found belong to the Empiring Ages. The blooming period lasted up to the 4th century BC, as the coins and the inscriptions tell us. From there and on there ‘s a blank in the history pages. Rumours say that the city was destroyed by the inva- sion of Goths (395AC), or evacuated because of constant earthquakes (375AC). You will find traces and parts of spas, temples, a number of buildings with remarkable mosaic floors saved in the sea or across the coast (Laconic ground suffered collapsing), aqueduct and ancient walls in the sea. Near the theatre was the acropolis and on the acropolis a temple dedicated to godess Athina. Mystical rituals were taking place at the hillsides of Koumaras where back then was dedicated to Dionysos and was sacred ground. Gythio also took great part in the revolution against the Ottomans, and along with Mani were the main centers where the Greeks reorganised their fighters.