The castle and its besiegers
In 375 a.d. an earthquake in the southeast of today’s Laconia cut off the peninsula known as “Edge Minoa”, creating a rock which was to remain up-rising and unspoiled for millennia, a natural fortress, a life savior, a much coveted crown for the greatest emperors in the history of Earth. This very rock, once a trail for Mycenaeic and Minoan civilizations, due to its one and only access ( “moni emvasi” ) to Peloponnese, was called Monemvasia.
Emperors, kings, counts, sultans, all wanted Monemvasia. They all sought to include it within their sovereign and thus benefit from this highly important trade and transport centre. The rock resisted them strongly, it was hard to get – Guillermo Bilearduin had besieged it for three years to finally render it to Byzantium in 1263 – and today has come to be the most coveted destination for the visitor who seeks to really escape the sufferings of modern city life, who wants to swirl amidst history, romanticism and sentiment.
The visitor is struck by this sensation on entering the magical castropoliteia (interior of the castle) through the main gate, as passing underneath the home of the great poet Yiannis Ritsos you can hear the echoes of “Moonlight Sonata”. Walking up the cobble-stone pavements , setting foot on these stones, which time and myriad visitors have worn down, you feel the call of the past on you and the urge to unravel history. Your imagination is spurred by the diverse origins and the architecture of buildings around you, first and foremost of which the 40 chapels: the “Elkomenos” Jesus, the “Metropolis” Of the castle, Saint Mary Myrtidiotissa and finally the all-white Saint Mary Chrissafitissa in front of the “Big Tapia” square, right where the Muslim mosque is, which accommodates the Archeological Collection of the town. Under the square, the inquisitive visitor will discover the Portelo, the only opening to the sea. You will be equally impressed by colorful gift shops selling souvenirs as well as by well preserved hostels and apartments in the castle, which offer the visitor the opportunity to spend the night and enjoy the aura of the legendary rock.
On reaching the top (“Goulas”), at the end of a meandering walk uphill and after you have passed through the “Ano Poli”, you find perched on the top the church of Saint Sofia, a Byzantine monument standing upright since the 12th century. The breathtaking view of Myrtoon Sea is your compensation and a sense of fulfillment fills you up as the cool breeze welcomes you and you feel honored that the landscape lets you rest your eye on it as if you were the leader of the whole world. Many have called it the Small Gibraltar, others the Venice of the East, but one thing is for sure: Monemvasia has its own genuine beauty and a mystery calling for you to discover. Why wait?


Photo Gallery

Hotel Malvasia
Traditional Guest House
Castle of Monemvasia

Exploring the place

You can enjoy yourself swimming in the beaches of Gefyra, in Pori, in Kastraki, in Ksifia, in Kastella, in Saint Fokas, in Livadia and in Hounaria. Do not fail to go to the only one fiord of Greece, Gerakas and its port, at the hill over which the remains of the ancient city Zarakos still lie.


Monemvasia like the rest of Laconia is full of tastes. You won’t leave without trying its famous amigdalota ( cooky made with almonds). You buy some more to take home to treat your unsuspicious friends. You drink the world famous sweet wine “Malvazia” and let your heart rejoice. Once upon the time this wine would only be found in the courtyard of the country leader, but now all educated connoisseurs have it on their table. Of course all this will be a natural follow up after the fresh fish of the area, especially the “red mullet” found locally, have challenged your palate. Thank God there are many local taverns and restaurants.