The medieval walls of Monemvasia encircle one of the best preserved and most beautiful castle-towns of Greece that attracts increasingly more fans by the year.


The castle, the winding cobbled streets, the hammams, the fountains, the rich merchants’ mansions, the old low arches, and the dozen Byzantine churches are elements of the most interesting castle-town in Greece, a town that seems untouched by the passage of time.

Houses, Venetian mansions and sculpture-like alleys, carved in stone, have earned Monemvasia, this unique medieval settlement of the Peloponnese, the nickname of “Gibraltar of the East”.

The town has passed through the hands of the Venetians, the Turkish, the Francs, the pirates, and finally the Greeks, many times.

You get to Monemvasia by car that you’ll park just outside the gate, on the road that links the castle to the new town, as no cars are allowed within the old town. Prepare yourselves for a hike. As you enter the walls, on your left, you’ll come across Yiannis Ritsos’ (famed Greek poet, communist and active member of the Greek Resistance during World War II) house, as he was from Monemvasia. In fact, in one of his poems he calls Monemvasia a “a ship of stone”. The main road is called Yannis Ritsos, while he poet’s tomb is located in the castle’s cemetery.

This castle-town’s magic is unique. It calls you to wander around its alleys, around a town that looks like a set, while you half expect knights and ladies clad in crinolines to appear.

Monemvasia is one of the rare holiday destinations in Greece that is equally successful all year round. Within the castle’s walls you’ll find everything you need: hotels, taverns, shops, patisseries, banks, cafés, souvenir shops, and small supermarket branches.

The main cobbled street that goes through town, from the entrance until the castle’s east side, crosses dozen of other streets, the most important being the other street that goes through town, vertically, from the sea to the Ano Poli, the Goula as it’s called, and the two streets meet at the main square with the cannon.

With the exception of these two streets, all other routes will lead you to scenic alleys that may end at a doorstep, or an impasse, leading straight at a wall. But any street you follow has something to show you: a fount, a blooming bougainvillea, an arched passage, a beautiful pediment above a door.

If you decide to head up to Ano Poli, the stunning view will reward you. Up there, you’ll find the church of Agia Sofia, a great spot to rest after the uphill trek, to take in the view of the town right up to the sea. All the large mansions, many of them now deserted, are located in the Ano Poli neighbourhood, since this is where the wealthiest citizens used to live. On the alley that leads to Ano Poli, you’ll come across two cisterns, the large also known as “katergo” and the smaller one, also known as “karavi”, as well as a Turkish fount.

You will definitely come across a small square in front of the church of Elkomenos Christos, that is also the castle’s cathedral.

The stone building next to it, is a museum and houses the town’s archaeological collection. The building was built during the Ottoman rule, as a mosque, then became a prison, and then a coffee house. Now, as a museum, it houses exhibits of the town’s public life, with marble or stone sculptures, as well as private collections of ceramic vessels and everyday objects.

Continue your walk in the direction of the sea, to reach the edge of the castle and the small gate called “Portelo” that leads to the rocks and the sea. If you visit while on a tour of the eastern Peloponnese, we recommend you consider spending at least one night in Monemvasia. The town, lit at night, is truly magical and it’s a kind of magic you won’t experience in the daytime. The alleys, the bars, the taverns, the churches, and the hotels are lit in a way that creates a mystical atmosphere, making night strolls simply dreamy.


If you want to live within the castle walls, you should know that the hotels and small guesthouses have not been allowed to change many things during renovations; that’s the reason the rooms are either quite small, since they couldn’t make them bigger, or too big, since they weren’t allowed to make them smaller. Most of the rooms have small embrasure-like windows that are not great for enjoying the view. The best accommodation options are the ones with balconies, that let the light get in unobstructed and have a great view.

The owners of most lodgings have tried to offer luxury in addition to modern amenities. So, you’ll come across suites with hammams or jacuzzi, old handmade furniture, courtyards with wells, and cobbled balconies that will create their set for your own fairy tale.

Among the best within the castle:

Moni Emvasis

At the start of the castle’s main road, its three suites offer accommodation of the highest standard. Designer brand furniture, marble bathrooms, jacuzzi and colour therapy will make your stay extra special. On the ground floor there is an all-day café.


The traditional “Ardamis Guesthouse” with the 14 m tower, has balconies overlooking the sea, as well as hammams. Unfortunately, the huge room with the equally huge balcony above the sea is no longer available, but the medieval atmosphere remains.

Behind the church of Panagia, you’ll find “Ta Kelia” (it means cells in Greek), that used to be monks’ cells. They are atmospheric and warm, and cell no 12 has a view of the sea. In front of the cells there’s a clearing where you can sit and relax.

Stellakis mansion

Ta Kelia

Built at the edge of the village, above the sea, this mansion is one of the oldest and most beautiful houses in the settlement. It’s atmospheric and discreetly luxurious. Some of the apartments have a fireplace and a view of the sea, as well as a fully equipped kitchen where you can prepare breakfast with your friends.

Guesthouse Ritsos

It’s located next to the main square and is right above the Portelo. At the ground level there’s a coffee house serving traditional delicacies.


This is outside the castle’s walls, ideal for those who prefer to make as little effort as possible to reach their room at night. Besides, many think that it’s best to look at Monemvasia from the outside, instead of staying within the walls. Kinsterna is an exceptional hotel built around an old cistern, right across the rock and castle of Monemvasia, in an area that resembles Tuscany. It has all types of rooms, like double rooms, suites and deluxe rooms, all ingeniously decorated, and very atmospheric.


This too is outside the castle, with spacious rooms decorated with wood. Most of them have a small balcony. The double suite no 14 is considered the best among them, with a living room, a jacuzzi and a fireplace.



This restaurant, near the castle’s entrance has an atmospheric balcony with a panoramic view, friendly service and modern Greek cuisine curated by Giorgos Tsimpidis.


Probably the oldest and most famous restaurant in Monemvasia within the walls, this restaurant is a household name, while its balconies have an amazing view of the sea.


The restaurant of hotel Kinsterna. Giorgos Hapsas is in charge of the menu that includes modern recommendations, made using products from their own vegetable garden.

Athas– Outside the castle walls in Agios Ioannis

The couple in charge of this great tavern knows great food. Traditional saitia (spinach pies with very thin filo dough) and gogkles (handmade pasta), wild greens they pick themselves from the mountain, local meats over open fire, and delicious potatoes to accompany them.


In Agia Paraskevi, you’ll find Pipinelis and his grandson, who make the best tomato sauce rooster with hilopites (traditional pasta).

Strolls and nightlife

Monemvasia has a couple of bars where you’ll go to listen to music, have a drink and chat with friends all night long. The best one however is Emvasis Cafe – Cocktail Bar, very atmospheric and with a view from its balcony, with amazing cocktails that show the owner knows his craft, great service and decent snacks and light bites.

Finally, one of the best strolls, starting at Monemvasia, is that towards Gerakas, a seaside area that appears like a lagoon. Protected from the weather, you can go on an excursion there when you’re in Monemvasia and have fresh fish. The best fish tavern from those around the quay is To Remetzo.


Don’t leave Monemvasia if you don’t try its renowned sweets. The Haramis family makes beloved sweets following traditional recipes, like fluffy, fragrant almond sweets, rafiolia (vanilla scented almond sweets wrapped in thin filo dough), diples (traditional fried honey rolls) dipped in honey, sasoumades (rolls with traditional filo, walnuts, almonds, sesame, cinnamon and honey) and melitinia (like a skaltsouni -almond based sweet- with honey).

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