Photo of Monemvasia

Visit Monemvasia

Monemvasia is a lovely town with a dramatic position on the coast of the Peloponnese and with dramatic cliffs rising up behind the town. Monemvasia is a small island connected by a road bridge to the south-east coast of the Peloponnese.

Explore Monemvasia

The island of Monemvasia was seperated from the mainland by an earthquake in 375 AD. In 1971 a bridge was built to reconnect the island to the Peloponnese mainland.

The small island is mostly covered by a plateau about 100 meters high and the town of Monemvasia is on the south east side. It is partially sheltered by the rock and slopes down towards the sea.


Monemvasia town was founded by the Byzantimes in 583 and became a flourishing port. In 1243 it was briefly captured by the Francs before returning to the Byzantine empire. Over the next few centuries it was ruled by various rulers including the Venetians and the Ottomans.

In 1821 the town was liberated and became part of Greece. The old town of Monemvasia is also called Kastro, Kastro-Monemvasia and Palia-Monemvasia.

Monemvasia is a fortified medieval town and its wall runs from the sea in the Lower town to the steep rocky cliffs. In the lower town many of the beautiful old houses are now hotels, shops and restaurants and it is beautiful to explore. A number of its beautiful churches are dotted throughout the town.

The main church is the church of Elkomenos Christos and was built by the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus and reconstucted in the 17th century. Its beautiful bell-tower was added in the 18th century.

Inside is an icon of the Crucifixion which is considered to be one of the most impressive of the Palaiologian Renaissance.

Opposite the church is the Archaeological Museum of Monemvasia which is housed in a former mosque.


The Upper Town is surrounded by walls and a steep path leads to it. In the Upper Town there are the old fortifications and the remains of some Byzantine churches including one called the Agia Sophia.

The Agia Sophia was built in the 12th century by Emperor Andronicus. It became a cathedral under Venetian rule and then a mosque under Turkish rule when its walls were painted white with lime wash.

There are also of course stunning views over the Lower Town and the Myrtoan Sea and the Peloponnese. 

The town can only be reached by foot and cars can either be left on the other side of the bridge or on the side of the road leading to Monemvasia town.

The new town of Monemvasia is on the other side of the road bridge and so not on the island at all. There are many hotels and facilities here and so be aware if you are booking accommodation which part of town you are booking.

There are a number of beaches dotted around the island.


Attractions nearby

To the north of Monemvasia on the Peloponnese is the pretty fishing village of Geraka which sits on the edge of a large lake and salt water marsh near to the sea. It was the birth place of Telly Savalas of 'Kojak' fame.

Monemvasia has a reputation as a romantic location for couples. Another town said to be one of the romantic in Greece is Nafplio which is also on the Peloponnese peninsula.

See also: 

Photos of Monemvasia

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • centre
  • centre1
  • church
  • church2
  • cliffs
  • coast
  • coast1
  • fortifications
  • sunset
  • view
  • walls

Map of Monemvasia and places to visit