A Day in Mystras

By Preston Thym and Mary Daley

Today we said farewell to the hotel in Pylos and headed to the archeological site of Mystras. This site was originally built around 1249 by William of Villehardouin and was later conquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks, and then the Venetians. The site has been pretty much abandoned since 1832, leaving these gorgeous stone ruins. There are a few churches still standing, and the church of St. Maria is still occupied by a few nuns and has an active sanctuary.

Outside of the sanctuary, we got to meet some new furry friends.

Early Christian monasteries were mostly built on the countryside. It was a practice for monks to be separate from the noise and distractions of the main city spaces. Emperor Theodosios the first passed a legislation banning monasteries from cities. The founding of monasteries within urban areas began in the 6th century.

Professor Salowey described the mosaics on the ceilings and walls depicting biblical narratives that were well known and also relatable stories visually presented in consideration for those who visited the church but could not read.

Going to this Byzantine site helped connect to our academic theme of “East Meets West” as the influences here were most definitely eastern.

After visiting the site, we went to a wonderful cafe in Mystras where we experienced some local food and the crop of the area: Oranges.

After settling in at the hotel, Zoe James led us in an engaging presentation on heteronormativity and gender roles in ancient writings and ancient times.

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