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The romance of Monemvasia

24 August 2014 / 21:08:38  GRReporter
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On the eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula, in the Laconia area and about 320 km from Athens, a small historic town with a medieval castle situated on a rock and connected by a bridge to the shore, fascinates visitors 365 days a year and in the summer is filled with life and energy. The rock on which the castle stands, resembling somewhat the Straits of Gibraltar, was cut off from land in 375 AD as a result of a massive earthquake which gave it its special appearance today.

Filled with narrow streets, stone steps, fairy houses and churches, Monemvasia has the distinction that you will never see the same thing twice, because every street, every house and every church is unique. And the reason is that different cultures (Byzantine, Ottoman, Venetian and Greek) have left their mark on the city over the years.

You will forget what a car is for a few days as the town is rich in things you can see and explore on foot. When you get to know Monemvasia, you will want to visit it again and again at every opportunity, enjoying the atmosphere which suffuses it.

What are the 5 must-see things that you must not miss on your first visit to Monemvasia?

A walk in the Old Town and the church St. Sophia

From the central square, with its cannon, you can climb the OldTown, now uninhabitable, where you will see the homes of various rulers and their families, narrow streets covered with tiles and Byzantine churches. On the whole, it is a magical place from which you will not want to part.

Continuing onwards uphill, you will get to the church St. Sophia, one of the most beautiful churches in Greece, built at the highest point of the OldTown.

A visit to the home of Yiannis Ritsos

A walk to the home of this great Greek poet, author of over 100 books of poetry, will really bring home to you the atmosphere of this town. You will find the house next to the entrance of the castle and you will recognize it by the poet's monument in front.

A stop at the Church of the Ascension

Built in the 13th century, the Church of the Ascension is on the central square of Monemvasia and is an emblematic church where a lot of weddings take place and to which pilgrims come from all over the world. The temple got its name from the famous icon of the Ascension that was stolen in 1979, found in 1980 and returned to the church 32 years later.

The archaeological collection in the castle

Opposite the Church of the Ascension you will find the archaeological collection of the castle of Monemvasia, housed in an old Muslim mosque. Here, you will become familiar with some of the archaeological finds from excavations and studies – generally architectural monuments, sculptures and ceramic objects. The finds reveal the historic development of the town and are particularly interesting for visitors who want to get to know the area well. If you like museums, you can also visit the two ethnographic museums in Rihya and Velies.

A beach in the picturesque cove of Portello

If you do not want to move away from the castle and prefer to go to the beach in a place full of history, the cove of Portello is exactly for you. Under the south wall of the castle, the picturesque cove once served as a port for supplying the castle with goods and was the only beach local people used to go to. Since the last reconstruction of the site, you can also swim in the historic waters close to the magical atmosphere of the castle. Other beach options nearby are the beach Kakavos to the left of the bridge leading to the castle, and the small beach of Kurkula closed on three sides and looking like a naturally formed pool.

Tags: Monemvasia a medieval castle Byzantine churches sights
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