Destinations / Peloponnese / Monemvasia

Monemvasia Destinations Tours in Greece Peloponnese Epos Travel Tours

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

It is more convenient to visit the village of Velies for a visit to the hospice of the hospitable family George Tsimidis. Here we will try the famous local Malvasia wine and other local varieties accompanied by local dishes.

After the winetasting We depart for Monemvasia, the picturesque Byzantine fortress, lying for centuries on the slopes of the windswept rock.

The town’s name derives from two Greek words, mone and emvasia, meaning “the one and the only entrance”. Its Italian form, Malvasia, gave its name to Malmsey wine.

The island of Monemvasia was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 375 AD. The majority of the island’s area is a plateau about 100 metres above sea level, and the town is built on the slope to the south-east of the rock, overlooking Palaia Monemvasia bay. Many of the streets are narrow and fit only for pedestrian and donkey traffic.

The town and fortress were founded in 583 by inhabitants of the mainland seeking refuge from the Slavic and the  Avaric invasion of Greece. A history of the invasion and occupation of the Peloponnese was recorded in the medieval Chronicle of Monemvasia.

From the 10th century AD, the town developed into an important trade and maritime centre. The fortress withstood the Arab and Norman invasions in 1147; William II of Villehardouin took it in 1248, on honourable terms, after three years of siege; in 1259 William was captured by the Greeks after the battle of Pelagonia and in 1262 it was retroceded to Michael VIII Palaiologos as part of William’s ransom.

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

It remained part of the Byzantine Empire until 1460, becoming the seat of an imperial governor, a landing place for Byzantine operations against the Franks, the main port of shipment for Malmsey wine, and one of the most dangerous lairs of corsairs in the Eastern Mediterranean. About 1401, the historian George Sphrantzes was born in the town. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 Monemvasia held out against the threats of Sultan Mehmed II in 1458 and 1460, when it became the only remaining domain of the Despot of the Morea, Thomas Palaiologos, claimant of the Imperial throne. He had no forces to defend it; he offered it to the Sultan, and finally sold it to the Pope. The commercial importance of the town continued until the Orlov Revolt (1770) in the Russo-Turkish War, which saw its importance decline severely.

The town was liberated from the Ottoman rule on July 23, 1821 by Tzannetakis Grigorakis who entered the town with his private army during the Greek War of Independence.

In more recent history, the town has seen a resurgence in importance with increasing numbers of tourists visiting the site and the region. The medieval buildings have been restored and many of them converted to hotels.

Yiannis Ritsos, also an active member of the Greek Resistance during World War II, who hailed from Monemvasia.

The Ritsos family residence, not open to the public, is located close to the castle town’s entrance, as there are many churches. It is said that a total of around 40 churches existed in the past. They now number 24.  Along with the Christos Elkomenos, the gothic-tinged Panaghia Myrtidiotissa, , and the Panaghia Chrysafitissa, next to the sea wall, are the stand-out churches.

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

Church of Christ in Chains (Christos Elkomenos)

On the one side is the 6th century Christos Elkomenos church, featuring the heavily guarded icon of the Crucifixion – considered one of the most impressive of the Palaiologian Renaissance.

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

 (Source: Wikpedia)

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

Agia Sofia Church
Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

The view when you go to the gate of the upper city is amazing! Agia Sophia the 12th century  church is all that remains. Standing 300 meters above sea level is overwhelming. There are many frescoes that could save a large part of the marble materials used for the construction of details. Though restoration work has been completed, the monument is not open to the public.

Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

Our Lady of Chrisafitissa
Monemvasia Epos Travel Tours

A beautiful church viewing the blue and with its miraculous image as it is called. It is worth a visit to admire the beautiful scenery which will make you relax.

Under the temple is a source, unique in Monemvasia. Many say that its miraculous water helps you to obtain children, even boys.

Along with the Christos Elkomenos, the gothic-tinged Panaghia Myrtidiotissa and the Panaghia Chrysafitissa, next to the sea wall, are the stand-out churches.

From here, head down to the Portello, the gate which leads to the sea which was once the passageway for traded goods. These days, this rocky location serves as the Monemvasia beach. The sight of waves crashing onto the rugged walls is captivating.

Map of Monemvasia

Useful information about Monemvasia

Accommodation in Monemvasia

Best things to do in Monemvasia

Guiding services and transfers in Monemvasia

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