Located on the east coast of the Peloponnese, Monemvasia is a small, medieval town built on a massive rock that rises dramatically from the sea. Its name is derived from the two Greek words meaning “single entrance”, referring to the fact that the old town can only be accessed through a short causeway that connects it with the mainland. A natural fortress, Monemvasia’s nickname is the “Gibraltar of the East” or, quite simply, “The Rock”!
Crossing the causeway and following the road that curves around the side of the rock, one comes to a narrow tunnel in a fortifying wall. The quiet, preserved old town that is revealed to the visitor today was the site of an ancient and medieval fortress, that developed into an important trade and maritime centre from the 10th century A.D. onwards. In the declining days of the Byzantium Empire, when Monemvasia became its main city and trading port, it’s population of 40,000 inhabitants also spread all around the rock. The fortified town was one of the most important strongholds of the Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman empires, which was the reason for the fierce military attacks and sieges that it repeatedly suffered from. By the 18th century, Monemvasia went into decline until it was re-discovered by tourists in the 1970’s.
The old town is divided in the “Upper Town” – an abandoned site on top of the rock that is definitely worth visiting for the breathtaking view it offers – and the “Lower Town”. Still inhabited, the Lower Town’s fortifications, public and private buildings, and many Byzantine churches have been preserved and restored to a large extend. Monuments and churches are scattered throughout the old town, while an important archaeological collection is housed in the old mosque at the Square of Elkomenos Christos church.
In the early 20th century, many of its inhabitants abandoned the Lower Town for the new settlement, “Gefyra” or “Nea Monemvasia”, that sprang up across the bridge on the mainland. Built in the shadow of the rock on which the medieval fortress town stands, the new town of Monemvasia is where all the practical facilities are located – grocery stores, pharmacy, news stands, and car rentals.
Municipality of Monemvasia:+30 27323-60500
Monemvasia Municipal Tourism Office : +30 27320-61777
Hospital – Health Center
Hospital (Molai):+30 27323-60100
Health Center (Neapoli):+30 27340-22500