The Byzantine fortress town of Monemvasia is also referred to as the Castle of Flowers, or the ‘Stone Ship’ by the poet Yiannis Ritsos. It is situated on a small islet off the southern coast of Laconia and is said to have been formed by an earthquake in 375AD. Its name derives from the Greek words moni emvasi, meaning a single entrance.
Once you enter through the passageway you step back in the Medeival times. It was actually built on the slopes of the rock. In our days, practically all the old Venetians mansions have been transformed 0into guesthouses or boutique hotels. Strolling along the cobbled alleys you can admire quaint, beautiful small shops, cafes and restaurants.
Everywhere you turn your eyes, there are monuments and churches, old mansions, low arches, coats of arms, narrow cobbled paths as if time has stopped. The main Byzantine cobbled street takes you to the main square and the church of Elkomenos Christos. An old cannon stands in the middle of the square and right opposite the church there is an old 16th century Turkish mosque now serving as a museum housing historical exhibits of Monemvasia. As you continue walking uphill you reach Agias Sophias Church, at the steepest spot of the rock from which you can admire the magnificent view of the town below and the castle wall diving into the sea.
Although all accommodation in the castle preserves the traditional style, modern facilities are available to make your stay comfortable. Enjoy your meals at the restaurants, taste local recipes and of course the famous local wine Malvasia. Have your coffee or drinks at their beautiful verandas admiring the spectacular sunset. Before you go buy their traditional sweet almonds.
If you visit the castle during spring you will be amazed by the scent of thyme, sage and oregano among other wild flowers that are in full bloom at that time of the year. For this it is also known as the Castle of Flowers.
There are many beaches in the region some secluded others well organized with tourist facilities, Gefyra, Ampelakia, Kastellas, Pori and Xifias or Portello a rocky doorway to the sea under the Castle walls.
In Nea Monemvasia, the modern town outside the castle you will find all modern facilities, shops, supermarkets, a bakery, a bank and night clubs for your entertainment.