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Important strategic and commercial town in Byzantine and Crusader period. It occupies a promontry connected by a small passage (now by a two-way road). The name 'Monemvasia' came from 'Mone (or Moni in modern Greek pronounciation)' and 'Embasis' in Greek meaning 'single entrance'. It was called Malmsey in English, Malvasia in Italian and Malvoisie in French.

The road to Monemvasia
The Road to the City Gate of Monemvasia
The Medieval residencial area was devided into the upper and the lower town: nowadays the upper town is totally deserted while the latter was still occupied and filled with hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. The lower town is situated at the eastern end of the promontory, i.e. at the other side of the entrance bridge. If you are visiting by a car, you can park on the side of the road leading to the city gate, but there is not proper parking (as you see in the photo). There is no entrance fee to the site or to the museum.
The places to eat or/and sleep can be found inside the Lower town or in Gefyla, the town lying before the bridge to the promontory.

History of Monemvasia
Narrow Road of Monemvasia
Narrow Street of Lower Town
Monemvasia gained its importance when the Slavs came down to Peloponnese and the Greeks moved to defensive locations. In 1147, it fended off the Normans from Sicily. In 1249 Guillaume de Villehardouin took it, but it was return to Michael Palaiologos in 1262, three years after his capture at the battle of Pelagonia, in exchange for his freedom. At the same time, Mystras and the Mani (Maina) were given back to the Byzantines, and these became the bases of the Byzantine domination of Peloponnese. Later it changed hands to Pope (1460-64), the Venetians (1464-1540), the Ottomans (1540-1690, 1715-1821).
House of Yannis Ritsos
House of Yannis Ritsos in Monemvasia
During the Greek war of independence, in April 1981, here happened a notorious massacre of the surrendered Turks.

Famous Greek poet, Yannis Ritsos was born in Monemvasia.


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