Sparta, the capital of Laconia and (after Athens) the most important city of Greek antiquity, offers a modern visitor little antiquities of interest. In its most powerful period the city had no city walls, because the Spartans felt that the city was better defended by the bravery of its men than by stones. Only in the 3rd century BC. the city center was surrounded by a wall and Sparta became a “normal” Hellenistic city with accompanying administrative buildings, theaters and temples. Despite its walls, the city was destroyed by the Goths in 396 AD. During the invasion of the Slavs in the 9th century, the city was abandoned, the population having fled to the Mani. With the construction of Mystras in 1248, the city disappeared from the map. However, in 1834, King Otto commissioned the Bavarian neo-classical architect Fr. Stauffer to design a new Sparta, after which the city grew rapidly from 130 inhabitants in 1840 (from Mystras!) to 18,025 in 2001. The archaeological museum of Sparta contains many extremely interesting finds, including from the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.
The Roman theater is beautiful, together with that of Megalopolis one of the largest theaters in Greece. The cavea could seat around 16,000 people. The stage itself (the skènè) was made of wood in the oldest (Hellenistic) construction phase and could be driven off to the right in its entirety. A permanent stone theater building was built in the 1st century AD. built and rebuilt several times (up to the 4th century), until the stage building with its enormous splendid façade could compete with the best Roman theaters in the Mediterranean. The eastern retaining wall of the cavea contains inscriptions with long lists of 2nd century magistrates. The theater, like several other buildings, bears witness to the flourishing of Roman Sparta.
On the right the acropolis of Sparta with the great theater and to the east of it the foundations of the basilica for Christ the Savior from the 10th century AD.