The hilltop castle nestled on Mt. Taygetos was founded by the Frankish leader, William II of Villehardouin in 1249. The Byzantines became masters of the castle after 1262. In the mid 14th century, the seat of Mystras was the Despot of Morea. In 1448, the last emperor of Byzantium, the despot Constantine XI Palaeologos was crowned here. In 1460, Mystras surrendered to the Turks. In 1464, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta seizes the city, but not the castle. Years later, Mystras falls briefly to the Venetians (1687-1715) and then back under Turkish domination. In 1821, Mystras is among the first areas in Greece to gain independence.
The most significant monuments and architectural ensembles of the area include: