Monemvasia, a name which derives from moni emvasis, the Greek for "single entrance", is a trucated mass of rock Attached, tentatively, to the eastern coast of Laconia by a slender modern causeway.
A true island known as the "Gibraltar of Greece" , Monemvasia was settled in the sixth century AD. by Lacedaemonians fleeing Sparta.Monemvasia with its unique archaeological site and multi-aspect culture, bears living witness to age-old traditions.
Lying at the crossroads of important Byzantine sea-ways in the Eastern Mediterranean and with close political and cultural ties to both Mystras and Constantinople, Monemvasia soon became a flourishing naval power with an enviable economy.Peloponnese Tour Classical Tour
Thanks to the city's political significance, emperors and despots of Morea established the Metropolitan See there and respected it particularly, giving the celebrated town tremendous commercial advantages.
Bereft of its former glory in the wake of 1463, the city succumbed to successive Venetian and Turkish occupations. The short-lived second Venetian occupation of the Peloponnese (1685-1715) brought changes to the way of life in the land and Monemvasia followed the general course of history.
The city became one of the four capitals of the Reign of Morea and mush interest was shown in building there. Splendid Christian monuments were raised while others were renovated or repaired and the land enjoyed social and economic well-being. After 1828 the course of the formerly illustrious Byzantine walled-city followed that of the newly-founded Greek state. The surviving wealth of monuments in the city stands today as a stalwart witness of the great past.
The Church of Hagios Nicolaos is a monumental edifice of the second period of Venetian rule built on the site of two earlier churches with money donate by the renowned philosopher Andreas Likinios in 1703, as a verse inscription on a stone plaque.
Nearly 15 centuries of continuous habitation have made the now depopulated town at the foot of the rock, and the Byzantine citable-town, totally deserted atop the cliffs, a fascinating and unique architectural gem.
Monemvasia's medieval heritage has been preserved and restored under the careful and informed guidance of two Athenian architects. Since 1964, both upper and lower towns have been under the aegis of the Greek Archaeological Service. The upper citable has become an archaeological site, where no further building may take place, and the lower town, a historic monument, whose structures may be renovated only according to state- approved plans. Alexander and Harry Kalligas, the husband and wife team responsible for restoring the medieval buildings to their former glory, treat each commission with the same respect as an archaeological excavation though they do not want the town merely preserved but lived in.
The new Municipality of Monemvasia was created by the " Capodistrias" plan. Its capital is the town of Monemvasia and it includes the villages of Angelona, Aghios Demetrios, Aghios Ioannis, Aghios Nicoloaos, Velles, Elliniko, Lira, Nomia, Talanta. It has 4,660 residents. The settlement of New Monemvasia, known as "Yefira", at the entrance to the Castle (Kastro) provides tourist facilities for the Castle and the surrounding area. Apart from its development as a tourist resort, Monemvasia has very good agricultural produce (olive oil, citrus fruit, a small industry producing traditional almond sweets, confectionery and sesame sweets. The local wines are exceptional (from the barrel and standardized) and some of these are organically produced. Mani
Stone-built walls surround the yards, which are guarded by beautiful, heavy, wooden gates. Fortunately, many of these buildings now have been restored and modernized properly, and several have been turned into hotels and pensions, retaining the traditional style. What is more important is that the area has kept its serenity and is rarely crowded with people