General Information & Reviews

Table of contents:
General infoUseful linksGallery (7)Reviews (12)

Monemvasia Greece belongs to the prefecture of Laconia, and it actually constitutes a Medieval fortress with a town next to it. The attraction of this location lies on its interesting ruins, which include not only this defensive structure but also the many Byzantine churches of the adjacent town–there is a total of 40, scattered along the narrow streets.

Regarding the name Monemvasia, in Greek, the word "mone" means "single", while "embassia" means "entrance". However, it is also known as Malvasia, the Gibraltar of the East, and The Rock. This last one is due to the features of its location, as it is built on a rock of 300 m height and 1.8 km long, occupying a steep, rocky islet connected to the coast of Laconia by a low bridge.

Apart from the beauty of the city, the rock itself is also very picturesque, with colors ranging between grey and pink tones. On the south-eastern side of this rock, the village is established, overlooking Palaia Monemvasia bay. Right in the edge of the bay, next to the castle's entrance, there is a cemetery where the grave of Giannis Ritsos, a famous Greek poet, lies.

Northwest, there is a small hamlet with no more than 10 houses, while on the north, the mentioned fortress is found. The north-west, as well as the top, are covered by a field of grass. Getting to the top can be an interesting stroll in the zig-zagging pathway.

In addition, this is where it lays the plateau, and apart from the ruins of the fortified town, it is also the residence of the Venetian Governor, and there are ancient walls, guardhouses, towers, and large water systems. Regarding the eastern tip of the rock, this is where the church of Agia Sofia is found. This octagonal 12th-century church is the main monument of Monemvasia, and its charm and magnificence remain untouched.

Apart from the fortress, there is an area called "Nea Monemvasia". It is located at a distance of about 1 km away from the fortress-town, providing all the necessary facilities of a modern tourist town, which makes it a very popular destination among tourists.

Read also in our blog: Monemvasia: the revival of a different era


12 Reviews
  • maria55 01 Jan 2011
    Great attraction for tourists
    I've always had a strong desire to visit Monemvasia as I had heard so many good words about it. I didn't know how beautiful it would truly be until I finally traveled there last summer. For those who don't know, Monemvasia is a peninsula off the Peloponnesian east coast and it belongs to the prefecture of Lakonia. It's mostly known for the medieval fort which is actually amazing to visit. We decided to stay in a hotel which is located in the Old Town of Monemvasia, inside the castle.

    During our walks in the castle, we saw many traditional taverns and we tasted great foods (and others not that great!). I recommend you go to Petra Club if you enjoy clubbing.

    I can tell you Monemvasia is definitely ideal for couples who wish to spend some days in a romantic place. We went to two beaches, the Mandraki beach which was very relaxing, near the port of Monemvasia. The other one is Pori and it is 2 km from Monemvasia. I really liked this beach because it was fully organized with umbrellas and sun beds plus that it was a great attraction for the tourists. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

  • alanbe 04 Jun 2010
    Magnificent castle town
    My first view of Monevasia after I had crossed the 200-meter long causeway from the new town was magnificent: a fortress town with an imposing wall and gateway beyond which no vehicles are allowed. I walked through the labyrinth of narrow alleyways and got the feeling of having stepped into a different world, that of partially restored and derelict buildings and fountains carved out of the steep terrain and having a decidedly medieval feel to them. Although I was a little wary of getting lost in the maze of narrow streets, I quickly realized that the possibility of such a thing happening is rather remote, as the place itself is so small that you are bound to reach your starting point some way or the other.

    I wandered around the village and counted over 30 Byzantine churches and towers, and I could see that there were still more to go. A paved path leads to the summit of the hill on which stands the ruins of the medieval castle which towers over the town. There are a few traditional Greek restaurants in Monemvasia, and all of them have a fantastic location beyond the majestic walls and overlooking the sea. I heard that all are equally good, but since I had only a day to spend in Monvemvasia, I tried Matoula, one of the more popular ones. The red mullet and lobster is a must try and stamna, a Greek stew with local cheese, baked in a clay pot was out of the world.
  • giusy 21 Mar 2010
    Lovely and well looked after
    Two days were enough to see Monemvasia. It's a lovely area in general and Monemvasia is well looked after. It's quaint and picturesque, with nice beaches and lots to discover in the town. Walk in the paved, winding streets, see the small churches and when you get to the top, you see the most amazing view of the sea. Blue sea and light sun and you keep staring the view amazed!!

    We stayed in a small hotel outside the rock, in Nea Monemvasia, but our balcony had view to the rock. Actually, we could not see Old Monemvasia because it is built on the opposite side of the rock, looking to the Aegean not the mainland. Taverns are good inside and outside the rock. I liked most the fish taverns at the marina of the new village, mostly for the view because the food was not that good. I have eaten much better food in Greece.

    The trip from Athens to Monemvasia is long, till Tripoli the road is easy, but the rest of the route has quite a winding road. After Monemvasia, we spent two days in Gythio and from there we took the ferry to Kythira.
  • Aishling_24 18 Nov 2009
    Old medieval beauty
    Old Monemvasia is called the area of the Old Town, which is the whole area around the castle. The castle of Monemvasia is actually built on a big rock. The rock stands above the new town (new Monemvasia). To get into the old town, there is only one entrance through a narrow passage. If you have a car, you have to leave your car outside the old town.

    The castle area is in my opinion the best part of Monemvasia. With great medieval and traditional atmosphere, beautiful rocky narrow streets, stone walls and many many churches hidden along the streets, the Old Town is a great place for a relaxing weekend, back to the medieval romantic past.

    We stayed at a hotel inside the castle, but I am sure there are more beautiful places to stay outisde the Castle, too. At night, the view over the rock was amazing... there are many bars and restaurants looking at the sea, that you can enjoy the view. View over the walls is nice by day, stunning by night!
  • parlap49 06 Aug 2009
    Night lights would be impressive
    We collected information from the Internet and also bought the book "The Peloponnese" by Dana Facaros and Linda Theodorou to get around Peloponnese this summer. It was our 7th trip to Greece but first to Peloponnese. I was surprised to see that it has equally good beaches to the islands and also very impressive sites and places to see. Monemvasia was breathtaking at first sight and very lovely. The road trip from Athens to Sparta is nice but the road from Sparta to Monemvasiais very windy. The old town is unique, I haven't seen anything like that: a whole village built inside a rock, with actual streets and small houses. Very impressive! The paths in Monemvasia is very slippery, watch out and do not wear heels!! You can't make a step with heels, believe me! All restaurants inside the rock were good, but a bit overpriced. It took us two days to realize that taverns in the new town outside the rock are cheaper and equally nice, plus you have a great view to the rock in the day. At night, there are no lights. Maybe to enlighten softly the rock at night would make it even more impressive. In Monemvassia, I strongly recommend that visitors stay on the mainland and walk across the causeway to visit the castle. Rooms in the castle are small, not well appointed and overpriced. Walking the castle walls & shopping are good, but staying there is not.
  • bethth 19 Mar 2009
    Better hotels in modern village
    We stayed in Nea Monamvasia and our hotel had fantastic views across to the islet, yet was only 10 minutes walking from the entrance. Hotel rooms in Palea Monemvasia were much smaller, no good view and overpriced. The modern village has lots of small tavernas and a beautiful cake shop. The shops in Palea Monemvasia were mostly selling gifts and souvenirs. There were also many restaurants. In fact, we had one of the best meals in the Old Town, service was quick, charming and very reasonable in price.
  • Susan Br 09 Nov 2008
    Breathtaking Monemvasia
    Monevasia is beautiful, breathtaking and unique: an area of living history that delights the visitor with every step through this ancient walled city. As one approaches the rock that juts into the sea, the surprise of Monemvasia is yet to be unveiled. Upon entering the tunnel through the ancient wall, the thrill begins. The lower town of Monemvasia continues to be inhabited and the buildings lovingly restored, so that the visitor gets an amazing sense of what life was like in the 12th- 13th century. A walk to the upper town makes one appreciate what was once there (especially the beautiful church of Agia Sophia) and how important it is to preserve what remains. Greek history and spirit of the Greek people who have survived conquest by many nations comes alive in Monemvasia.The town is charming, the people warm and welcoming. An absolutely wonderful place!

    As for the tourist facilities, there are only 3 tavernas within the Old Town. The food was tasty and not too expensive. The taverna with a view of the sea (forgotten the name) was our favorite - good food, helpful staff and a wonderful view. Breakfast at a small cafe overlooking the church square consisted of yogurt and honey followed with fresh squeezed orange juice - it was wonderful. My advise to future visitors? Spend the extra money to stay in the Old Town. There are no cars to annoy and pollute and the atmosphere is fantastic. My advise to the town authoritis? Keep maintaining the current policy of limiting merchandisers, banks, etc, out of the Old Town. It truly has the feel of a 12th century town.
  • vasilikiang 04 Sep 2008
    Perfect for the romantic souls
    It was my second time in Monemvasia this summer. I have to say the first time I liked it better, the rock seemed more impressive to me. Monemvasia is a special place you do not easily find today. For the more romantic souls, it is the top medieval castle with narrow, stone paths that gives them the impression that a knight will appear, dressed in his strong
    armour and having this decisive look in his face!!

    Me, I am more practical. I thought it was a lovely, weekend destination but doesn't have much things to see, except for the Old Town. The New Town is just a small village with many cafeterias and some gift shops. Buy amygdalota from the New Town, it is the traditional sweet of Monemvasia. In the Old Town, have your dinner at Tzaki Restaurant. The tables at the balcony give view to the sea, the castle and the famous church of Christos Elkomenos.

    I think Monemvasia would also be nice in winter, if you find a room with a fireplace and it is raining or snowing outside, wouldn't it? Very cozy!!
  • vabreto 14 May 2008
    Make excursions
    We used Monemvasia as a base to do excursions around Laconia. Of course, Monemvasia is a lovely town itself but has little things to offer to tourists. Except for the castle and the old town, there aren't many other sightseeings. After two days, there aren't any other things to do. On the other side, we didn't want to leave beacuse we loved our hotel. So we rented a car and made daily trips to Molai town, Sparta, Mystras and Archangelos, a fishing vilage about an hour from Monemvasia. We had fun really, although the children got a bit tired!!
  • dynamok8 05 Apr 2008
    Stay at Monopati
    Ive just spent the last 10 days in the Old Town of Monemvasia. Its especially great for singles entrepreneurs who wish to have some quiet time alone, gather their thoughts and just wander around aimlessly discovering the island. I stayed at the Monopati Apartments with Isabelle Sonnard Giannou who is a very generous host. I had the big apartment with a terrace which was great to sit out on for my every day breakfast in the sun. She also has wireless broadband access so that you are not completely cut off, which makes it perfect for the holiday that you need to have, but can still do business with. Isabelle is very efficient and timely with any request and keeps the apartments in a very clean and neat state. I had researched all accommodation on Monemvasia and am very happy with my choice of Monopati.
    I explored the whole island, and also the New Town where there are several restaurants and cafes. Late afternoons are great for a late lunch into evening dinner time. The locals are all very friendly and dont mind a chat and are happy to give some advice.
    I wish Isabelle and Chris all the very best with their business, and recommend their accommodation to anyone wishing to visit Monemvasia.
  • marywin 13 Mar 2008
    An iceberg floating in the sea
    What I liked most in Monemvasia was the view of the castle at night. I was tired walking those steep, rocky streets around old Monemvasia but when it got dark, we would eat or have a drink in the new city and see the back side of the rock. As it had no lights, it seemed to me like an iceberg floating in the sea!
    Our hotel was small- it was actually more of a hostel- but very clean. We stayed for three or four days there and rented a motorbike to go to the nearest villages and beaches. The nightlife was pretty quiet, the town had only a couple of clubs, but in the end we had a nice, relaxing time.
  • o-mou 16 Sep 2007
    A beautiful place
    I visited Monemvasia when I was a child and was really impressed by the beauty of the place and most of all the medieval atmosphere. The fortress on this small peninsula is really amazing.
    We slept in the modern village, on the other side of the bridge but this part of Monemvasia has nothing to offer except accommodation.
    I hope I will have the opportunity to visit this place again.