In July 2016, me and my partner spent a very relaxing two weeks in Kyparissi, Greece, a small village on the east coast of Laconia (read about Kyparissi here). After about one week, having already seen everything in the village, we felt the urge to venture out to explore a new part of Greece and enjoy some new scenery. We drove to the beautiful medieval town of Monemvasia, located further down south in Laconia, only 1.5-hour drive away.
The drive took us through to the beautiful path of Laconia and lead us to the Peloponnese peninsula, where we reached a bridge that connected us to a small mountain island. This is where Monemvasia town is located – one of the most historical and impressive places I have been to in Europe.
Monemvasia, meaning ‘single entrance’ entrance in Greek, is a hidden fortress town that was built by locals about 100 meters above sea level to protect themselves from invaders back in 583 AD – the Byzantine period. Their area used to be a prime target for pirates because of local trading and maritime activities and as a result, the town was purposely built to confuse and distract pirates and invaders in their quest. The entrance of Monemvasia leads you into a narrow road with shops, restaurants and cafes along the way.
Monemvasia is filled with maze-style roads that inspire you to walk around, get lost and explore. Whether you are going on a hot summer day or even just an average day, there are a few key things to consider ahead of your trip.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes – the town is filled with cobblestones and uneven surfaces, so it is important that you wear shoes with a solid surface.
- Keep water with you at all times – you will most likely end up walking for hours on end, so you will become very dehydrated.
- Bring some small snacks – just in case. As you will end up walking and burning loads of calories (good for some, but not for me!) I would suggest keeping some nuts in your bag to re-energise throughout the way.
- Bring cash – if you are interested in buying from the market stalls. Some shops are more established, where they accept card payments, and some are old school.
Along the way you will find beautiful sights of old cobblestone houses, ruins and the seaside.
The cannonballs and beseiged nature of the rocks in this lower part of town are remnants of the once threatened area of Monemvasia.
Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to Monemvasia, one of the highlights of Greece and I would say Europe so far. A beautiful secret Greek town which you can easily explore in a day. For the authentic and historical experience, I would have loved to stay the night in one of the traditional medieval houses. Monemvasia is small, but there are lots of hidden ally ways and gems to be explored.