Monemvasia. We visit the medieval town as travelers, we get as excited as you, we love touring & photography...We love what we do...:)
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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. 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.
Monemvasia, a name which derives from moni emvasis, the Greek for single entrance. In 1971, Monemvasia became linked with the rest of the outside world through a bridge on the western side. 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. The town was liberated from Ottoman rule on July 23, 1821 by Tzannetakis Grigorakis who entered the town with his private army during the Greek War of Independence. For the past few years, on July 23, an independence day celebration has been held in the main port. Speeches are made and the story of Tzannetakis Grigorakis, and his men, is recounted in both Greek and English. Inhabitants and visitors can gather to watch as a ship, built every year, is filled with pyrotechnics and set on fire. " The red Ship in photo"
Geography: 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 of the same name 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. A small hamlet of about 10 houses lies to the northwest.
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. Farm fields that fed up to 30 men were tilled inside the fortress. William II of Villehardouin took it in 1248, on honorable 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.
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 agios 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.
Daily: Visit Monemvasia or combined with other sites. Please read our Touring/Info*
Sites & Museums: Summer: daily, 8.00 to 20.00 pm. Winter: 8.00 to 17.00 approx. Last entry 30 min before closing.
Entrance fees: Read TouringInfo
Closed on Holidays: January 1st. , March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. On Good Friday, the sites are open 12.00 - 17.00.
Highlights of Monemvasia
Medieval town Walls
Upper Medieval Town
Church Agios Nikolaos
Church Agia Sophia
Byzantine & Venetian Monuments