Enchanting castle town and secluded getaway
A huge rock jutting from the sea like a glacier, a medieval fortress, gorgeous nature, and hiking paths that feel as if you’re at the edge of the world – Monemvasia has all those and much more. You feel like you’ve travelled back in time in this walled town that passed from Byzantine to Venetian to Ottoman rule. Its medieval buildings have been restored to their former glory and it has become popular with well-to-do visitors from both Greece and abroad.
Within the fortress are many cozy guesthouses to choose from, along with a handful of cafés and restaurants tucked away in the alleys. An archeological museum is housed in a mosque from the Ottoman area, while at the very top of the rock – which is accessible by a long stone stairway – lies the Church of Agia Sofia from the 12th century, reputed to be almost a miniature replica of the original in Constantinople/Istanbul. For the more outdoor types, apart from a must-do trip to the top of the rock, there are hiking paths circling the rock, sandwiched between the fortress walls and the sea.
There is also much to see beyond the castle rock and in the greater area of Monemvasia. The town across from the rock, just a few minutes away by foot, has an idyllic seaside promenade with several restaurants and cafés that are less expensive than their counterparts inside the fortress. The town's bakeries/pastry shops also offer some treats, such as almond paste sweets, worth trying. The region boasts a winery, Monemvasia Winery run by the Tsimbidis family, offering several award-winning organic wines. Further away is the truly impressive Kastania Cave, considered "a hidden gem that's 3 million years old." On the greater Monemvasia peninsula, if you drive for an hour, you can grab a ferry to the quiet island of Elafonisos, which has some of the best beaches in Greece, if not the world. In the area, before crossing over to the island, the sunken city of Pavlopetri can be seen by snorkelers and divers just off the coast. This part of the Peloponnese offers a myriad of attractions who are not yet on the radar of mass tourism. It's a true paradise for all who visit, and Akron Travel can make it happen whenever you feel like heading there, so do get in touch with us!