In the north part of the modern city of Sparta, some digs of the previous centuries have brought to life an impressive edifice with dimensions 12,5x 8, 30 meters. The building is dated in the 5th century B.C or before and has been built with big limestones. The dig was done in 1892 by Wallenstein, who had originally considered it to be a small temple. Even though its use has not been ascertained yet, it has been identified in the folk wisdom with Leonidas’ cenotaph. Pausanias mentioned that the bones of the legendary king of Sparta had been brought and buried here. Leonidas’ cenotaph constitutes the only monument of the Ancient Market to be saved until this day.
His sacrifice in the battle of Thermopylae has changed, according to European Historians, the course of European history since it dispelled the myth of the invincible adversary and encouraged the resistance of the Greek states, forestalling at the same time their surrendering without a fight. In parallel, it set an example that has been imitated by different people in different historic times.
Koumantarios Gallery of Sparta is housed in a well-preserved, neoclassical 20th century mansion. It was donated by Dolly Goulandris and her brother Georgios Koumantaros in honour of their art lover father Ioannis Koumantaros, whose dream was to found a gallery in his hometown. The gallery was inaugurated in 1982 and operates as a branch of the National Gallery. It includes a permanent exhibition of fourteen oil paintings of west European painters of the last two 16th century till the early 20th century-all donations of Ioannis Koumantaros. The numbers of the exhibited paintings is small; however they depict the flourishing evolution of portrait, landscape painting, character painting and still life. There are also periodical exhibitions with works of the National Gallery. Their aim is to familiarize the visitors with Modern Greek painting so, hosting exhibitions is very important for the local community.
Manousakio Museum of urban and folk life was donated by Leonidas Meletiou Manousakis who, in 1996 gave to the municipality of Sparta his house along with all the furniture, appliances, clothes, photograph collection, ottoman banner etc. It is housed in the two story neoclassical house of the late 20th century, on 13, Ananiou Street in Sparta. Manousakio museum is going to be a pole of attraction for both the local and the foreign visitors, who will have the opportunity, through representations of interior architecture, exhibition and multimedia projections, to get a glimpse of family and social life of another era and of the people who created and lived in the new town of Sparta in the last century.