Gythion, traditionally the port of Sparta, is now the second largest city in Laconia and the capital of the Mani. The inhabitants claimed Heracles and Apollo as founders of their city. In the Peloponnesian Wars, Gythion was the headquarter and base of the Spartan warfleet and as such was attacked and destroyed by the Athenian general Tolmides in 455 B.C. The Theban general Epameinondas unsuccessfully tried to take the city, while later the Spartan King Nabis reasserted the city.
The ancient city was slightly north of the modern city. Among the ancient remains, a small theater with a tomb-like structure of unclear origin in the orchestra should be mentioned. Furthermore, inscriptions from the Roman period have been found, which indicate the great prosperity that the city experienced during that period. Not one of the buildings mentioned by Pausanias has been identified. In the Middle Ages Gythion is no longer mentioned and it was probably abandoned. The modern city only dates back to the 19th century. It is above all a tourist center, with departure options to Crete and Kythira and numerous restaurants. The town is particularly charming with its boulevard along the water and its ships. A rusty fishing ship has almost become a landmark of Gythion.
Directly in front of Gythion lies the ancient island of Kranaë (now connected to the mainland by a bridge), the current Marathonisi. This is where the Trojan prince Paris and the Spartan queen Helen first slept together after eloping from Sparta (Homeros, Iliad 3.445 and Pausanias 3.22.1). To celebrate this fact, Paris built a temple for Aphrodite on the mainland opposite and Menelaus, having destroyed Troy to avenge the insult, one for the goddess Themis (“Justice”).