Worshipped, conquered, coveted, ruined and survived throughout the centuries. What is Monemvasia after all?
by Artemiou Anastasia
Have you ever dreamt of traveling in time and being the hero in your own unique fairytale? Monemvasia, the “Gibraltar of the East” or the “stoned boat” of the great Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos, born here, allures you to explore its own unique atmosphere.
A magical castle town, Monemvasia attracts countless visitors from all over the world in order to experience its diversity and its multiple and varied elements in a romantic scenery.
Soon you will realize that nothing will be seen twice, since no alley, no arch and no church are the same as the other. The reason is that various cultures Byzantine, Ottoman, Venetian and Greek have left their markings in it over the years.
Situated in the eastern Peloponnese, in the prefecture of Lakonia, about 320 kilometers from the capital enchants its visitors all year round climaxing during summer.
Monemvasia’s throne, a rock detached from the land in 375 AD due to a strong earthquake, gave it its current, special form.
Rich in things to see and explore by strolling around you will actually forget the need of a car and once you become part of it you will definitely plan to visit it again and again at every opportunity, reviving the atmosphere that envelops it.
But what are the things you should definitely see or do on your first visit?
- Stroll through the medieval castle
You can start by enjoying your coffee in the central alley of the Lower City, in “Agora”. The Byzantines called it “Middle Way,” the Venetians “tax”, the Ottomans “bazaar”.
It was then the commercial street. Now you can see cafeterias, taverns, shops all along it.
The castle becomes the outset of your tour to the Monastery of Monemvasia.
Indulge in the magic of the trip in its alleys. Walk to the Lower City, next to the seaside beside the ruins of half-broken churches. Look up the Mansions of the Upper City and from the central Tapia the golden sea.
As the sunset makes its presence the shadow of history falls into the alleys, you will see the walls, as seen by the Venetians, the Ottomans and the Byzantine years before.
- The Upper City
Walk up the Upper City to admire the Venetian elite mansions. The view of Agia Sophia hanging on the steep slope above the sea is breathtaking.
Go inside and look up. The dimensions of the dome are awe-inspiring. Move up.
From the acropolis of the medieval Upper City the view across the area is panoramic.
- Dive into the blue waters of Monemvasia
The unique sea gate of Monemvasia, Portello, opens in the middle of the wall to swim in the crystal clear waters.
The feeling is like jumping from the ship’s railing. Swim against the backdrop of the gray rock and the stunning stone buildings resting on its back.
- Domestic tastes of Monemvasia
Try the handmade pasta of Monemvasia, called “goges”, and “saitia”, fried pies with cheese and herbs.
You will be lucky to taste the sweet Malvasia wine, the authentic flavor of Monemvasia and the nectar of the high society of the Middle Ages.
You can also be offered by local companies that expertise on exclusive services, tours of gastronomy, wine tasting, olive and vine harvesting.
Don’t forget to buy handmade products of excellent quality and unique nutritional value such as extra virgin olive oil, honey, different types of olives, organic products, spoon sweets, a variety of jams, liquers, herbs and beauty products.
- A dreamy stay
The boutique stone-built guest houses of Monemvasia are ideal for making your nights and days an ideal romantic hideaway.
Suites with spas, pebbled patios, courtyards with old wells, vaulted rooms with atmospheric lighting, and hand-crafted furniture along with all the modern comforts make up the setting to star in your exciting fairy tale with knights and fairies.
Moreover, they are an exquisite idea for weddings and other special social events which are approached individually and fulfill every taste and need.
- Folklore museums
You will have the opportunity to unfold the everyday life of the inhabitants of Monemvasia over the past centuries, their ways of living and their customs in the two folklore museums of the region in Reichia and Velies.
- Visit to the house of Yiannis Ritsos
A stroll to the home of the famous Greek poet with more than a hundred poetic collections will make you be part of the region’s atmosphere even more.
You will find it next to the entrance of the castle of Monemvasia and you will recognize it from its bust overlooking the Myrtoo sea.
- Activities to do
Tradition is not the only thing to experience in Monemvasia. Various activities are organized to fill up any kind of taste. Walking, trekking, hiking, yoga retreats, cooking classes and many more.
In case you wish to have a private tour to explore history, culture, tradition, nature and gastronomy, quality services are kindly offered by specialized companies.
As soon as you realize that this place was coveted by knights, pirates, crusaders and emperors throughout the years, you will definitely not miss the opportunity to become the pilgrim of your own sacred travel to the worshipped town of Monemvasia.