Nikos Ghika is known to me largely as a close friend of Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose travel books are among the best ever written. In Tearing Haste, Fermor's correspondence with Deborah Devonshire, is on my bedside table now, and Ghika comes up in it from time. Ghika's own work is well worth exploring as in and of itself, but what captures me in Mystras is its stimulus to a writer's imagination.
Think of it as the mysterious setting for a piece of speculative fiction. A ruined city on an uninhabited planet. A dangerous maze in a fantasy world. The drop into shadows on the lower right hints at something sinister. So do the possibly way-too-exuberant date palms in the courtyard on the lower left. If it were an illustration for a story, why is it empty of inhabitants?
Meanwhile, back in reality, for a fifteen-minute video about Ghika, Fermor, and John Craxton (who provided the cover art for Fermor's books), click here.
Mystras image via useum.org.