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Monemvasia

Sceneries of Wild Beauty Crowned from Medieval Glory

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Crowned from the craggy slopes of Parnonas Mountain, Monemvasia, the medieval lady of Laconia, invites travellers to unveil the mysteries of her myths and legends. Homeland of the powerful city of Sparta, the byzantine town of Mystras with its glorious frescoes, the wonderful atmosphere of Gythio, the legendary lighthouse of Cape Malias, he petrified forest of Agia Marina, the exotic beaches of Elafonisos and the stalagmites of Kastania cave, the peninsula of Monemvasia will blow your mind. Thousands of years ago, a vermillion rock sprang from the stormy sea. Resembling the “stone ship” of Yannis Ritsos, adventurous Gibraltar of the East, lovely Menexe Kalesi and imperious Fortress over the Clouds gained only one name; romantic Monemvasia, the sole gate. Praised from artists and captains, Monemvasia is a genuine spectacle of the Peloponnese peninsula. Byzantine monuments, idyllic villages and dreamy seashores will travel you through its million of beauties. Plunging into the deep blue of Myrtoan Sea, with sceneries of extreme wild beauty and medieval glory, Monemvasia has managed to coexist with unique landscapes between the sky and the sea. The red rock of Monemvasia steals the show with her Byzantine allure. Behind the medieval walls of Monemvasia, old memories of love and ancient legends of history come alive in a city of poetry. Silence and magic, romance and fairytales, passion and love, imperious and mysterious Monemvasia will leave you speechless with the distinctive sentiments that will initiate to your soul. The church Hagia Sophia with the panoramic vistas to the Myrtoan Sea, an exact replica of Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, the gate of Portelo with the harsh waves of the endless blue of the sea, the view from the dominating fortified Castle of the medieval city, the Byzantine fortified town of Mystras, one of the most dramatic archaeological sites of Peloponnese, the stalactites and stalagmites of Kastania Cave, and the treacherous hills of legendary Cape Maleas will make you fall in love with this peninsula of Laconia. Fascinating mansions, ornamented Byzantine churches, narrow cobblestone alleys, medieval arches with coats of arms give their own unique prestige to the fairytale of Monemvasia. The turbulent history of Monemvasia will travel you back in time through its prestigious fairytales and its medieval glory. Are you ready for a journey back to the medieval times?

Medieval Discovery

Explore the romantic beauty of Monemvasia

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Rising like a castle on the Myrtoan Sea, mysterious Monemvasia loom the Laconian coastline through a narrow causeway and a 130-meter long bridge. This lovely city owes it name to “moni emvasis” that literally translates to sole entrance. The red rock of Monemvasia steals the show with her Byzantine allure, as its size streches 1500 meters in length and 600 meters to its width reaching over a height of 200 meters above the sea level. It is interesting enough that the rocky mountain has never been cultivated since there were no veins of water run through its body, which gave the opportunity to the inhabitants to utilize the abundance of stones for the unique architectural style of the settlement. Upon entering Monemvasia from the sole entrance, indescribable feelings of romance will overpower your soul. Can you imagine travelling to one of the best-preserved medieval fortified castles of Greece?
Discovering the medieval treasures of Monemvasia
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Stone arches, labyrinthine cobblestone alleys, magnificent mansions and Byzantine churches ornate the lovely settlement of the Lower Town. A narrow alley next to the main entrance leads to the house of Yannis Ritsos that surely deserves a visit. Also, the view from the terrace is breathtaking! The tour of this poetic city starts off at Yannis Ritsos street, the famous poet who once described his homeland, Monemvasia as a petrified ship.Lined up from delicatessen shops, cozy coffee corners and picturesque taverns, this main Byzantine street leads to the central square with the old cannon and the church of Elkomenos Christos, the largest medieval church of southern Greece built from the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Komnenos in 1293. Across the church lies the domed church of Ayios Petros, which was originally a sixteenth century mosque that houses an interesting arcaheological collection. From the old cannon, it is worth continuing to tha square of Dapia with the impressive church of Panayia Chrisafitissa, a domed church that was constructed during the first Turkish occupation of Monemvasia after the miracle icon of Panagia in Chrysafa, Lacedaemonia was found on the south side of the church. Descending towards the sea gate of Portello, travellers will grab the opportunity to understand the massiveness of the fortification system of Monvemvasia. The gigantic stonewalls protect the city like guarded angels. It is quite interesting that the initial stage of consruction of the defensive system of Monevmasia dates back to the Byzantine period. It’s worth wandering through the labyrinthine stone alleys, lose your way through impressive arches and arcades decorated with blooming bougainvillea and historical monuments to experience the genuineness of mysterious Monemvasia. A bunge of churches deserve your attention during the exploration including the churches of Panagia Mirtidiotissa, Agios Nikolaos, Agios Stefanos and Agios Pavlos. One of the favorite promenades of the travellers was the promenade along the sea walls of the Lower Town, as their location are rewarded with the spectacular views to the Myrtoan Sea. Exploration aficionados deserve to head towards the Eastern Wall by following the route to the Lighthouse of Monemvasia. The preserved lighthouse was manufactured in 1896 from stone, the dominant element of Laconia, and it was restored in 2013 in order to be functional once again.The climb from the main square to the Upper Town, however, is your best shot to experience the medieval history of Monemvasia with a breathtaking view to the Lower Town and the Myrtoan Sea. Upon arriving at the entrance gate with the iron slats, passing through stone arches and cobblestone alleys, the most exquisite ornament of the Upper Town is the 13th century church of Panagia Hodegetria, else known as Hagia Sophia, which stands proud on the edge of the cliff. Once upon a time, the Upper Town, once the impregneable castle of Monemvasia, had more than five hundred spacious houses during the 17th century. Today, travellers can explore the unique landscape with vast cisterns and remains from houses and public buildings that still testify the glory of the past. The end of the exploration is at Goulas, the highest point of the castle with the citadel that was cosntructed at an altitude of 3090 meters above the sea level. The hiking route’ duration takes usually twenty to thirty minutes depending on your fitness. One way or another, the exploration in the medieval city of Monemvasia is a must! Our mysterious Greece tip however goes to our favorite readers; if you are not a hiking type, buy a ticket with one of the traditional caiques to enjoy a lovely view of Monemvasia from the sea!

Exploring the rich history of Monemvasia

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Inhabited since eight thousands years ago, Monemvasia was the sole Proto Helladic settlement of the eastern region of Epidaurus Limera. Monemvasia served as the first naval base in the world, known as Cape Minoa, for ships sailing between mainland Greece and the Cyclades and Crete. Thus, Monemvasia continued to be an important crossroads between the Mycenaean and Minoan cultures. Nonetheless, the powerful earthquake of 375 AD alternated the geomorphology of the region by cutting off the promontory from mainland Greece. In Monemvasia, this subsidence occurred at the edge of the rock and only on its western side, which was covered by the sea, transforming what Pausanias had described as a long and narrow promontory into an islet. Monemvasia’s geographically strategic position transverse it an ideal base for military operations during the Byzantine era. The Byzantine state declared it an administrative centre for the imperial lands in the Peloponnese. So, Monemvasia flourished as a naval and merchant hub due to the development of the Lower Town shortly after 900 AD. It served as the chief commercial port of the Despotate of Mystra and was for all practical purposes the Greek Byzantine capital. During the 13th and 14th centuries, Monemvasia experience her kind of golden age, the time when it was populated from a number of noble Byzantine families who gained considerable wealth from estates inland and wine production. Over the centuries, Monemvasia was fought from the Franks, Byzantines, Venetians, the Pope, and the Ottomans for its geopolitical importance. It is quite interesting that the inhabitants, throughout time, have maintained their identity, a relative autonomy and their privileges. In 1463, Monemvasia had been the last Byzantine stronghold to fall and on July 23, 1821 it was the first Greek fortress in the Peloponnese to be liberated by Greek independence fighters, an event of decisive importance for the struggle against the Turkish occupation as it gave a tremendous boost to morale. Monemvasia had returned to Greek rule after 358 years of foreign occupation under the Venetian and Ottoman dominations.

Important historical sources found from the Municipality of Monemvasia

Southern Laconia Escape

Discover the unknown beauties of Laconia

The peninsula of Monemvasia is a cultural and historical puzzle that unveils its mysteries through millions of ancient and byzantine treasures. Experiences of a lifetime are offered throughout the peninsula of Monemvasia. Whether you choose to visit the Byzantine fortified town of Mystras, a valuable source of information regarding history, art and culture of the last two centuries of the Byzantium, and you prefer to accelerate your adrenaline through a magnificent 4×4 and hiking route to legendary cape Maleas, and discover the exceptional splendor of Limani Geraka and the verdant paradise of Kyparissi or you wish to admire the fossilized relics of the magnificence of the Petrified Forest in Agia Marina, enjoy the crystalline waters of the Laconian coastline, observe the pink flamingos at Strogili Lake, explore the mythical sceneries of Talanta watermill and Larnaka gorge and discover the oldest submerged city of the Mediterranean in Pavlopetri, the peninsula of Laconia has everything packed up for you to experience one of the most unique journeys in Peloponnese!
An Experience of A Lifetime: Explore Cape Malias
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Situated on the southernmost point of continental Europe, after cape Tainaro on the peninsula of Mani, the route to the stone lighthouse of Cape Malias promises one of the most exhilarating hiking experiences in Greece. Designated as a listed monument, Cape Maleas is one of the most important lighthouses in Greece known to captains and seamen all over the world. Sailing by cape Maleas has always kept many potential dangers, as the seas around Cape Maleas have been traditionally treacherous and difficult to navigate, producing unpredictable weather and powerful storms. In ancient times, Cape Maleas was one of the busiest shipping lanes for crossing from the northeast Mediterranean to the west. Homer describes how Odysseus on his return home to Ithaca rounds Cape Maleas only to be blown away and being lost for up to 10 years. Stravon, geographer of antiquity, quotes …If you decided to pass the cape of Maleas forgot that you had family… while Karkavitsas, a Greek novelis has written …The storms of Cape Malea are not made by the wind. I will tell you. The storms of Maleas are not due to the wind … the elfs do…” Can you imagine the treacherous hills and the wild cliffs of this pristine, and yet mythical place? Trekking lovers will fall in love with the footpath to the cape, one of the most prominent hiking routes in the region. This hiking map made from the municipality of Monemvasia can help you unveil the mysteries of this mythical place with your friends!
Elafonisos: An Exotic Island in Laconia
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Elafonisos ain’t no secret anymore. Some still wonder whether Simos who baptized one of the most beautiful beaches of Greece was a hermit or an abandoned sailor; the mystery still exists! White sandy dunes and crystalline turquoise waters, tranquil moments in a natural paradise as Elafonisos will make you appreciate nature at its grandeur. Used as a hideout for pirates, the land of deer is a genuine utopia. Words could never describe the uniqueness of this island, bordered from the massiveness of the Greek seas, hardly to be found elsewhere, and inhabited from hospitable people of laconic culture. Elafonisos is unlike any other destination of this country, as it reveals a world worth discovering. Its rare natural beauty will definitely touch your soul. From the traditional boats of Agios Spyridon harbor, the patron saint of the island, the exotic beach of Simos with the emerald waters and the cedar forest to the deserted church of Panagia with its panomic vistas to the endless blue of the sea and the bay of Sarakiniko, Elafonisos knows the magic of peacefulness. The mysteries, however, never hide even when they lie across the island. The pristine beach of Pounta with the famous submerged city of Pavlopetri, the oldest in the Mediterranean, the Stroggili Laggoon with the pink flamingos, a protected region from Ramsar, the impressive stalagmites of Kastania Cave, and the legendary lighthouse of Cavo Malias are just a few of the monuments of the southern coastline of Laconia. Elafonisos,however, is a colony of imperious Mani, a rare place, an archaeological site and a region of NATURA 2000 and, believe us when we say that it is the best region to feel serenity and explore a heavenly utopia. Smells of octopus and calamari, which attest the long fishing tradition of Elafonisos, with one of the largest fishing fleets in Greece, the feeling of sleeping on nature, under the Aegean sun, and sounds of the calm sea washing up on the sand, is all you need for this summer. Lying beneath the shady cedars, immerse your fingers in the sand to touch the soul of this paradise. The moment you open your eyes, junipers and dunes surround you, with the shadow of all the shades of blue flirting like a magnet with you.

Emerald Exploration: Experience the Crystalline Waters of Peloponnese
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Dazzling sandy dunes with waters in all the shades of blue under the windy breezes of the summer and the clear blue sky. It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, far away from the ordinary or maybe it is not. Blessed with the finest of nature, Laconia hosts some of the most beautiful beaches of the world. Whether you are looking for azure, cerulean, emerald, sapphire or turquoise waters, Laconia has it for you. Cosmopolitan and organized, secluded and isolated, sheltered and windy, you will find everything you need in Laconia. If you want to stay within the walls of Monemvasia castle, Portelo cove in Monemvasia, once the supply port of the fortress, is your ideal choiceRecently restored, Portelo provides the unique experience of swimming right under the imposing fortress city of Monemvasia. Those who want to get away from the crowds, looking for tranquility and isolation, Panagia beach in Vatika is your best choice. It is one of the most pristine beaches of Laconia that distinguishes for its crystalline waters and its white sand. Furthermore, Drymiskos beach in Kyparissi is one of the hidden gems of Laconia region. It is a tiny bay with turquoise waters, a paradise ideal for couples and serenity seekers, accessible only on foot or by a four-wheel drive on a two-kilometer dirt road. Favored from the locals, Marathias beach on the western side of the peninsula is famous for its crystalline waters and its golden sandy dunes. The beach is one of the hidden treasures of Laconia ideal for beach sport enthusiasts! No one could ever forget, however, Pounta beach near Neapoli, one of the most impressive beaches of Laconia lying right opposite the exotic island of Elafonisos. Distinguishes for its sandy dunes and its turquoise waters, this long beach is a must visit. Snorkelling aficionados worth visit the beach bordering to the south with the remnants of Pavlopetri.
Fossilized Trunks: Experience the magnificence of Peloponnese Petrified Forest
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Extending over an abundant seaside region from Agia Marina and Agios Nikolaos to the plain of Voies, natural aficionados will have the opportunity to explore a rare natural phenomenon unique in a European scale. The Petrified Forest of Peloponnese is a valuable geological museum of petrified tree trunks that date back three million years ago. This unique collection is completed with a series of rare finding including algae, rare shell and sea creatures’ fossils. Geological disturbances, earthquakes and volcanic activity led to the fossilization of the paleoflora of the region, millions of years before our era. The organic matter of trees has been replaced molecule by molecule from solution of silicon and calcium in a patient process that took place under the sea.The municipality of Voies has created a modern geopark with informational material and walking routes around the Petrified Forest in the region of Agios Nikolaos. Palm trees, conifers, and hardwood trunks were petrified due to various natural phenomena and they were recalcitrance by the rise of the sea level. The findings of the petrified forests are protected natural monuments of great scientific value. The petrified palm forest of the coastal zone of Agios Nikolaos has been included to the Atlas of Geological Monuments of the Aegean, and strongly claims a place in the Network of Geoparks in Europe. Visiting the petrified forest is an absolute must as it is a one-of-a-kind miracle of nature.
Island Beauty: Discover the exceptional splendor of Limani Geraka
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Unsuspecting travellers will be pleasantly surprised from the fairytale beauty of the port of Gerakas. Upon entering the fjord inlet, you will be amazed from the island beauty of this lovely paradise.  The traditional houses, seafood colors, calm waters combined with the tranquility of the people and the beauty of nature seem like they have sprung out of a Rennaisance painting. Distinguished for its pristine spirit and its authentic character, the tranquility of Gerakas’ landscape creates an idyllic setting for enjoying peaceful moments. Characterized as the southernmost fjord of Europe, the lagoon of Gerakas offers travellers a spectacular landscape while the settlement of the harbour with its excellent fish taverns by the sea reminds the island atmosphere of the Aegean.Sailors will definitely find their peace of heaven here, as the Saracen and the Venetians did. During the Byzantine period, Ierax was the naval station of the Byzantines, the hideaway of Frankish pirate Roger de Laura Aragon, the shelter of the traders of Spetses and Hydra islands, and the safe solution for those who wanted to avoid the rough seas of Cape Malias.
Mythical Sceneries: Talanta Watermill
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In a scenic corner of the valley, at the lovely village of Talanta, nature aficionados and hiking lovers will have the opportunity to visit the watermill than once, along with other ten mills, supplied the extended region with flour. The locals from the surrounding region used to visit Talanta in order to grind their wheat. Even the village’s name is a sign of its past wealth, as talanta is an ancient word for a weight unit. However, the merchanisation of milling led to the abandonment of the water mills and their eventual collapse. Through the efforts of the Cultural Association of Talanta, one of the former mills in the Gorge of Balis, the renowned Talanta Watermill was restored to its former glory operating with energy generated from water. The watermill is an excellent sample of traditional technology situated in a wonderful natural environment among myrtle, walnut and plane trees. If you happen to visit the watermill on a Sunday, the mill is set in motion to give visitors a chance to experience the way of life in the past. Travellers will be able to witness how the mills used to operate with the power of running water, where freshly milled flour is on sale by the mill. The visit to Talanta Watermill is both educational and pleasurable for everyone, especially for those interested in observing how daily needs were met, without today’s technology.
Pink Flamingos: Discover Strogili Lake
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Situated between the archaic submerged city of Pavlopetri and the pristine beach of Pounta, Stroggili Lake is one of the most important wetlands of Greece for migratory rare bird species that has been included in the European Network of NATURA 2000. Stroggili Lagoon subjects also to the protection requirements laid from the international RAMSAR Convention as a regime of the prohibition of hunting. Stroggili Lagoon has a vital role in the balance of the ecosystem of the wider region since the lagoon serves as a haven for 132 bird species. The geographical and ecological importance of the lagoon lies also in the fact that it permanently communicates the sea on the southwest edge of a shallow channel (80 – 100 meters). Dominated fom scrub and juniper beaches and sandy dunes, Stroggili Laggoon is your ideal nature exploration, especially if you are a lover of birdwatching. It is well worth a visit to Stroggili Lagoon, as the entire area is an ecological and historical treasury!
Stalagmites & Stalactites: Explore the mysticism of Kastania Cave
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Dating back to the Jurassic period, Kastania Cave (0030.27343.60100 – www.kastaniacave.gr) is only the second of its kind in a European scale. Incredible stalagmites, colourful rocky shapes and impressive forms will spellbound you from what nature can create. Three millennia was the period of time required from nature so as to create these unique cave formations of an exceptional variety. Gigantic reddish and snow-white stone cascades, huge multi-shaped columns, rocky curtains hanging from the roof are among the formations that will amaze you. Colourful octopuses, tiny elephants, mushrooms and medusas, corals and exotic plants are just a few of the formations that Kastania Cave inner decoration has created. The corridor will guide you through the First Chamber with various stalagmites, the Red Chamber that distinguishes for the impressive pillars that seperates this chamber from the Water Chamber, a huge room with the small pond that led to the discovery of Kastania Cave. The Mushroom Chamber is one of the most beautiful chambers decorated with stalagmites resembling like mushrooms; descending through the Royal Stairway, with the cactus shaped stalagmites, the Chamber of Fir Trees takes the stage with the gigantic stalagmites just before the Candles Chamber. Shaped like Paschal Candles, the alabaster stalagmites have formed exquisite shapes of structures. We have saved, however, the best for last; the Chocolate Chamber, which was named after a pillar that resembles a chocolate bar, and the Alabaster Chamber with the snow-white unique decoration! Before you leave, make sure to visit the Large Balcony, belowe the Bushes Appartment, where you will follow the spiral corridor in order to enjoy an exquisite view of all the chambers of Kastania Cave from the top! Being unique in its kind, Kastania Cave with its vivid natural imagination will amaze you! It is a must to visit! Tip: Enjoy a lovely virtual tour on this link!
Underwater Majesty: Discover the oldest submerged “Pavlopetri” city of the Mediterranean
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Pavlopetri, one of the oldest submerged cities in the world and the oldest in the Mediterranean Sea, was first discovered from Fokionos Negris in 1904. Famous oceanographer Dr. Nicholas Flemming of Southampton University visited the site (1967) and published the first survey of the submerged settlement while, a year later, a team of archaeologists of Cambridge undertook the first systematic underwater survey of the ruins. Situated off the coast of southern Laconia in Peloponnese, between the beach of Pounta and the isle of Pavlopetri and opposite Elafonisos Island, Pavlopetri is a invaluable archaeological site with an almost complete town plan as it is the oldest underwater archaeological town site in the world dating back 5,000 years. Although the settlement appears to have been abandoned around 1100 BC, latest archaeological evidence indicates that it was populated once more in the Classical and Hellenistic periods. Pavlopetri occupied a valuable prehistoric place in the southern part of Cape Maleas, and was one of the most important ports in the southern Peloponnese, as it monitored shipping from Laconia to the Aegean and the western Mediterranean. Nonetheless, this is not an ordinary archaeological site since the city can be found four meters underwater! In fact, the architectural remnants of this prehistoric town spread over six hectares southwards to the islet of Pavlopetri, divided into smaller rooms, inner courtyards and prehistoric roads. Among the ruins were found stone graves, probably from the Meso Helladic period, along with two Mycenaean chamber tombs while an extensive prehistoric cemetery of cist graves (3rd & 2nd millennia BC) was discovered on the beach of Pounta. Of particular interest are the ceramic vessels that indicate the community’s close relations with Kythera, Crete, the Cyclades and the Northeast Aegean. In 2009, an on-going programme of exploration and excavation was begun from the University of Nottingham, the Greek Culture Ministry’s Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and the Hellenic Centre for Maritime Research. Today, Pavlopetri has become the first underwater city to be fully digitally mapped and recorded in three dimensions, and then brought back to life with computer graphics and sonar mapping techniques developed by military and oil prospecting organizations. The work of the British and Australian archaeological team was assembled in an hour-long BBC documentary video, namely “City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri”, that was broadcasted from BBC Two. The city of Pavlopetri is part of the underwater cultural heritage as defined by the UNESCO in the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
Kiss Night Goodbye from Erotic Monemvasia

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The peninsula of Monemvasia is a cultural and historical puzzle that unveils its mysteries through millions of ancient and byzantine treasures. Crowned from the craggy slopes of Parnonas Mountain, Monemvasia, the medieval lady of Laconia, invites travellers to unveil the mysteries of her myths and legends. Experiences of a lifetime are offered throughout this peninsula of Laconia. Whether you choose to rest in the medieval town of Monemvasia, visit the Byzantine fortified town of Mystras, a valuable source of information regarding history, art and culture of the last two centuries of the Byzantium, and you prefer to accelerate your adrenaline through a magnificent 4×4 and hiking route to legendary cape Maleas, and discover the exceptional splendor of Limani Geraka and the verdant paradise of Kyparissi or you wish to admire the fossilized relics of the magnificence of the Petrified Forest in Agia Marina, enjoy the crystalline waters of the Laconian coastline, observe the pink flamingos at Strogili Lake, explore the mythical sceneries of Talanta watermill and Larnaka gorge and discover the oldest submerged city of the Mediterranean in Pavlopetri, the peninsula of Laconia has everything packed up for you to experience one of the most unique journeys in Peloponnese! Silence and magic, romance and fairytales, passion and love, imperious and mysterious Monemvasia will leave you speechless with the distinctive sentiments that will initiate to your soul. Fascinating mansions, ornamented Byzantine churches, narrow cobblestone alleys, medieval arches with coats of arms give their own unique prestige to the fairytale of Monemvasia. The turbulent history of Monemvasia will travel you back in time through its prestigious fairytales and its medieval glory. Are you ready for a journey back to the medieval times?