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Ancient Gytheion

Prefectural Administration of Lakonia

Ancient Gytheion

Ancient Gytheion was located a little to the north of today’s town of that name, at Palaiopoli. Tradition holds, as handed down to us by Pausanias (3.21.8), that the city was built by Heracles and Apollo. Homer mentions that Kranaaë, the little islet off Gytheion, was used as a refuge by Paris and Helen of Troy. Gytheion was the main port of the Lacedaemonians after the prehistoric period, and it was deepened and artificial protective works added. It belonged (from 146 BC) to the Peloponnesian League, and later (22 BC) to the League of Free Laconians (along with 24 other Laconian cities). In the Roman period, Gytheion developed into a fine commercial port and industrial centre, as it exported porphyry and had a porphyry processing industry. It suffered catastrophic damage in the horrific earthquake of AD 375, which shook the whole of south Laconia, and in AD 395 was completely deserted in Goth raids. The most important monuments are the ancient theatre and the ancient agora.

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