Also known, as the "Gibraltar of the East" constitutes one of the major touristic attractions of Peloponnesus and Greece in general. The castle of Monemvasia is built on an isolated rock island, the "flower of Monemvasia" which is connected to the mainland through a bridge, hence the name of "Mone-emvasia" translation in Greek of only one entrance.
The founding of the fortress and the town of Monemvasia traces back to 6th century BC. People seeking refuge from the Slavic and the Avaric invasion in Greece founded the town in 583. From the 10th Century AD, the town developed into an important trade and maritime center. The fortress withstood the Arab and Norman invasions and conquests in 1147. Cornfields that were grown inside the fortress fed up to 30 men. It was a Byzantine town that existed continuously under the domain of the Empire until 1471, when it was sold to the Pope by the Despot of Morea Thomas Palaeologos (in 1474 Venice captured it.) It was successively governed by Venetians and Ottomans in intervals. The commercial importance of the town continued until the Orlov Revolt (1770) in the Russo-Turkish War, which saw its importance decline severely. The town was liberated from Ottoman rule on August 1, 1821, during the Greek War of Independence.
The Greek archaeological authorities carefully maintain this pre-medieval castle so that the traditional character of the settlement is preserved.Every building is restored according to thearchitectural specifications of its original building era.The castle is divided into two sections, built at different levels, each with a separate fortification. Remains of numerous Byzantine and post-Byzantine buildings are preserved in the area of the Upper Town, which is not inhabited today. In the lower town there are restaurants, cafeterias, pubs, jewellery shops and many more.
While walking in the narrow paved streets of the lower town you may come across many of the 40 old churches that lay inside the walls. Christos Elkomenos, Panagia Chryssaphitisa and Saint Sofia are three of the best preserved.
Moreover, you could visit the museum of Monemvasia, former Muslim mosque, in order to observe the archaeological exhibits or have a swim at port Elo, the small port of the castle at the back of the rock island.