Gythion (Sparta), Greece
Gythion, the small port town for Sparta, edges its way up the hillside, which surrounds the harbor. According to Homer, Paris and Helen spent their first night together here, on a tiny islet in the bay. To commemorate the occasion, Paris erected a shrine to Aphrodite, goddess of love, only to have it torn down by the vengeful Menelaus after he recaptured Helen. In its place Menelaus erected statues honoring Praxidica (Punishment) and Themis (Justice). Not far away, at the tip of the Peloponnese, lies the Mani, a distinctive area unlike anything else in Greece. This desolate region of underground lakes and rivers and windswept landscapes is strangely beautiful. To the north of Gythion lie Sparta and Mystra, well worth a visit.