Monemvasia: A castle with a view

monemvasiageneral

The Venetians called it “Malvasia di Napoli”, i.e “Silk town”. We found out about it an afternoon in spring when we had a walk in the castle of Monemvasia. By Maria Th.  Massoura

It was spring. On the second day of a road trip in Peloponnese, we ended up in the southernmost part of Laconia. I always wanted to visit the rock which hosts one of the most charming places in Greece, the Castle of Monemvasia.

We crossed “The Bridge”, the little bridge that separates the fortress from the new town. We left the car out, since there are no roads inside the castle and cars are not allowed. We entered the medieval walls through a small gate.  There, we came up with another world coming out of a fairytale.

streets
Following the main cobbled street

It was spring. On the second day of a road trip in Peloponnese, we ended up in the southernmost part of Laconia. I always wanted to visit the rock which hosts one of the most charming places in Greece, the Castle of Monemvasia.

We crossed “The Bridge”, the little bridge that separates the fortress from the new town. We left the car out, since there are no roads inside the castle and cars are not allowed. We entered the medieval walls through a small gate.  There, we came up with another world coming out of a fairytale.

steps

So did we. We had a look at the map with the many cobbled streets of the city and began. We followed the main street starting from the gate. Following that street and passing by small beautiful shops, taverns and cafés, we found ourselves in the Lower Town, the settlement which was built near the sea.

streets3
The main street led to the central square of the Lower Town

Every corner, a different neighborhood, colourful flowers, geraniums and bougainvilleas coming  out from the cracks of the walls. The houses were well preserved with some of them painted in various colours while beautiful plants decorated the streets. Note that the ideal season to visit Monemvasia, is spring, when everything is blooming wonderfully.

flowers1

The beautiful square of Christ Helkomenos with the cannon is the heart  of the Castle. There, there is the homonymous Cathedral, a 17th century Ottoman house as well as a former mosque which now houses the archaeological museum, where you will see objects of the everyday life of the inhabitants.

churchdetail1
The square of Christ Helkomenos

From there, in 15 minutes the next cobbled street led us to the second part, the Upper Town, or, as the locals call it, to “Goula”. Do not hesitate to walk  up. The view from there is fantastic while the church of Hagia Sophia is worth visiting as it is an exact replica of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The third part of the Castle, called “Acropolis” is located at the highest point.

detail5
View of the sea from the square of Christ Helkomenos

A few days before we left, I faced a dilemma. I had decided that by facing the sea in Monemvasia, I had my answer. So, from the square of  Christ Helkomenos, I followed an alley, I went through ‘Portelo’, a little gate, and I found myself near the sea.

The cobbled street that leads to the sea

By looking over the rooftops of the Castle and with the blue sea stretching out ahead of me, I got my answer. Note that in summer, from that point there is an access to the sea, where you can dive.

viewthought
Thinking….with a view!

Leaving late in the afternoon, I thought that Ritsos didn’t accidentally write these verses:

” My lady Monemvasia, my stone ship.

Thousands your sails and jibs.

And always motionless you stay

to sail me in the world»

coffeeview
A moment of instant happiness!

POST IT

  • 150 meters from the main gate, on the left, you will find the home of the poet Yiannis Ritsos, since this is his birthplace. You will see his bust outside the house.
  • Try traditional flavours at Matoula (+ 30 27320 61143), with a fantastic view to the sea. Order “saϊtia”, a local fried pie with herbs and, of course, the noodles while it is worth trying fresh fish.
  • Also ‘Marianthi’ restaurant is very good (+ 30 27320 61371) where, apart from saϊtia, you will try “stamna” too, a local specialty, with pork, vegetables and cheese.
marianthi
At Marianthi’s you will eat traditional dishes
    • For a drink check out “Enetiko” a nice terrace overlooking the sea, the first cafe you find once you get in the Castle (FB: Enetiko & Cafe Cocktail Bar)
    • Leaving the Castle, check out the workshops of the new town and get the traditional macaroons and “gkogkes”, the handmade local pasta.
amigdalota1
The traditional macaroons of Monemvasia
  • A diamond in the region is the lovely Kinsterna Hotel & Kinsterna Spa (URwww.kinsternahotel.gr), a beautifully restored building with a very good restaurant serving Greek and Mediterranean flavours at Agios Stefanos. (kinsternahotel.gr)
    • Inside the Castle, there are several hostels which offer a nice stay.
shop
Don’t forger to buy traditional products from the little shops inside the Castle
  • Before the 13th century, the local wine was the sweet Malvasia wine, which took its name from the area. The Malvasia wine is considered a historical designation of origin and a protected designation of origin for white sweet wine coming from sun-dry grapes and sweet liqueur wine from raisined grapes. It is used now, as a main selection for the creation of the awarded Monemvasia-Malvasia, made from sun-dried overripe grapes by Oinopoiitiki of Monemvasia www.malvasiawines.gr).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *