For those who have read about ancient Sparta, the bellicose city-state that once dominated the Greek world, the modern city on the broad Eurotas river might be a disappointment, since ruins are few and far between. Given the area's earthquakes and the Spartans' tendency to live more like an army camp than a city-state, no elaborate ruins remain, a fact that so disconcerted Otto, Greece's first king, that in 1835 he ordered the modern city built on the ancient site. The modern town is not terribly attractive, but it's pleasant enough, with a lively pedestrian-only city center.


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