Monemvasia is a town in Laconia, Greece. Monemvasia is on a small island off the east coast of the Peloponnese. The town is unique as it has been carved in a huge rock. The rock cannot be seen from the mainland. The entrance faces the sea and a narrow causeway. Monemvasia is mostly rocky with some greenery. It is surrounded by sea. There are some olive groves in the area.
The name Monemvasia comes from two words: moni and emvasis, which means single entrance. The Venetians saw the only passage to the town was through a paved walkway that they built. Before they built this walkway, the only way to the area was by boat.
During antiquity, the rock was uninhabited, but it may have been where a Minoan trading post was located. A Greek traveler and geographer by the name of Pausanias referred to the site as “Akra Minoa,” which means “Minoan Promontory.”
Poet Yiannis Rotsis is one of the most well-known people from Monemvasia. Born in 1909 to a wealthy family, he suffered a number of losses as a child. His mother and oldest brother died from tuberculosis and his father was committed as he suffered with mental illness. The family would also be ruined economically. Yiannis Ritsos was also in a sanitarium from 1927 – 1931 with tuberculosis. These events affected the poetry of Ritsos. He won the Lenin Peace Prize (known as the Stalin Peace Prize prior to 1956) and was nominated nine times for the Nobel Prize For Literature, but never winning. In 1967, Rotsis was arrested by the Papadopoulos dictatorship and sent to a prison camp in Gyaros. His poetry was banned at different times in Greece due to his left wing beliefs. Ritsos is buried at the cemetery of Monemvasia. Both his tomb and his family home, which is within the Castle of Monemvasia can be visited.
Administrative Region for Monemvasia, Greece
Area of Monemvasia, Greece
Municipality: 949.3 km2 (366.5 sq mi)
Municipal Unit: 209.0 km2 (80.7 sq mi)
Population of Monemvasia, Greece
Municipal Unit: 4,041
Top Attractions in Monemvasia, Greece
Monemvasia Fortress – This fortress dates back to the 13th century and has Byzantine, Ottoman, and Venetian history. The fortress is on a small island linked to the mainland via a short causeway. The location of the fortress provides a lovely view of the sea.
Church of Agia Sofia – Located on the edge of a cliff, this church sits at the highest point of Monemvasia. The church was established in the 12th century. Damaged by war and time, the church was restored during the 20th century.
Church of Elkomenos Christos – Located in the Old Town of Monemvasia. The church was constructed in 1697, likely on the site of a former church from the 6th or 7th century. This church is dedicated to “Christ in Pain.”
Archaeological Collection of Monemvasia – A one-room museum that highlights the different styles of door frames and building decor from the different regimes. Also showcased are remains of fortress walls and temples and items from daily life. The museum is housed in a Muslim Mosque that was built during the 16th century.
Kastro Monemvasia – This is the Old Town, which is built inside a huge rock on the sea. A narrow path connects the rock with the mainland. Bars and restaurants overlook the sea.