A whole day in Monemvasia as it should be...
Monemvasia and surroundings: Castle, Gefyra, Xifias, Ag. Ioannis, port of Gerakas
Beaches: Portelo, Kakavos, Ambelakia, Pori, Kastraki
The main attraction of the area is the Castle of Monemvasia, so we strongly recommend that you take at least one day to explore it and feel its captivating atmosphere.
As soon as one crosses the bridge and sole ‘gateway’, one senses the majesty and aura that the city’s long held history whispers to those who wish to be captivated by its charms. Travel through time with each and every step on the cobble stoned alleyways still thriving with life.
Thankfully, vehicles, noises, and daily stresses of our modern lives remain relegated outside the ancient walls that guard the city.
The only sounds that one can hear are the footsteps on the well trodden cobble stones that pave the network of alleyways criss-crossing the citadel. Each byway grants the visitor, a genuine feel of times gone by...
It is well worth wandering through the network of alleyways on the lower slopes of the castle citadel amongst the ruins and the flowering bougainvilleas shadowing ancient archways and byways bordering homesteads that are steeped in history and local legend. One can also visit several byzantine churches among which worth noting are the churches of ‘Mother Mary of the Myrtle’, St. Nicholas, St. Stephen, St. Paul and St. Anna, to name but a few. Also worth visiting is the homestead of the famous greek poet and fellow Monemvasian writer Giannis Ritsos. His soul rests in Monemvasia, upon his ‘stone ship’ as he describes his beloved city, at the cemetery located just outside the fortress.
If time allows for it, a solitary tour around the perimeter and outer “sea” walls of the Lower Town will reward you with spectacular views of a bejeweled landscape budding with wild flowers bordering the brilliant blue sea of varying hues accompanied by the sound of the crashing waves. Your path will cross the east gate on the very edge of the outer bastions and the time worn light house that once guided the ships into the city’s harbor.
One can reach the upper town or ‘acropolis’ climbing up the narrow pathway that leads you to the summit from the main square. On the summit, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the fortress city below, surrounded by the sea. Positioned on the very edge of the cliff you will find the only building still left standing, the recently restored church of St. Sophia which was built in the 12th century A.D.
If you are captured by the magic of the medieval castle there is no need to exit the gate, as inside the walls you may find many great options for food, coffee and drinks, even shopping. And if you wish, you can take a swim at Portelo, just under the walls, having in front of your eyes the whole magnificent town. A truly unique experience.
Alternatively, you can take a relaxing walk to the village of Gefyra for fresh fish and freshly made sweets, while you can swim in the beach Kakavos, next to taverns and cafes.
If you stay more days in Monemvasia and want a change of scenery without going too far away, you can combine a ride and a swim with good food in the following places:
Xifias (5 km south of Monemvasia), where there are some of the best beaches and tavernas in the area, or to Ag. Ioannis (8 km north of Monemvasia), an excellent choice if you want to savor local meat and delicacies close to the beautiful Kastaki Beach, or if you want to go a little farther, you should visit the picturesque port of Gerakas (20 km north of Monemvasia), where you can enjoy fresh fish and seafood by the sea while you may take a swim in the calm waters of the lagoon. We highly recommend it.