Monemvasia, the 'Gibraltar of Greece'. The town owes its name to the narrow strip of land linking the coast with the rock - it means 'one entrance'.
The 13th century was its golden age and the city was home to many noble Byzantine families. As Monemvasia was a seaport and commercial centre it was considered a vital stop for many ships sailing round the Peloponnese; with the opening of the Corinth Canal its popularity waned.
The Turks and Franks occupied the rock but most of the ruins that you see date from its period of Venetian rule, the Venetians were to give their name for Monemvasia (Malvasia) to a locally produced wine. In the Byzantine era the economy of fortified cities was trade-based and so this wine was shipped off to other parts of Europe from Monemvasia port. You can still buy local wine from the Monemvasia winery, founded in 1997.
This fortified mediaeval town, crowned by castle ruins, is definitely on a must-see list. Explore its narrow cobbled lanes, mansions, archways & the Byzantine churches wedged in between the houses - don't forget to make your way up to the castle for some excellent views and a completely different perspective on the town.
Parking is on the causeway as it is impossible to get cars onto the rock.
Where to stay