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Monemvasia (Μονεμβασία) aka Malvasia

Monemvasia Monemvasia is a secluded and beautiful city located on a peninsula in Laconia prefecture in Greece.

 

 

Location: Peloponnese Region, Laconia  Map

 

 

 

 

Description of Monemvasia

 

Monemvasia is well known for its medieval fortress and Byzantine ruins, but practically unknown to the foreign tourists that make it a favourite destination for those who want to get away from large crowds and annoying service. The name of the town of Monemvasia comes from Greek that means “single entrance”. It owes its name due to a fact that it is located on a peninsula with a single road (GR- 86) connecting it to the mainland.

Monemvasia Map

 

History of Monemvasia

Monemvasia was found about 583 AD by the refugees of the Byzantine Empire who fled Slavic and Avaric invasions. The village that established on the south-eastern side of The Rock was easily defended from the land. A single entrance could easily be guarded even with a small garrison. By 10th century it was an important trading centre. Its strong walls defended the inhabitants against Norman, Arab and Persian attacks from a sea. However in 1249 Franks under leadership of William II of Villehardouin managed to capture this important Monemvasia Byzantine harbour after a three years siege. Just ten years later it was turned back to its previous owners as a ransom after William II was captured in the Battle of Pelagonia in 1262. Monemvasia was sold to pope in 1471 by its despot. However the citizens chose to pledge their allegiance to the Venetians as more effective protector of their interests. From this point up to 1821 it was in possession of Venetians and Ottomans interchangeably that conquered and lost the city repeatedly. Monemvasia was one of the first cities to be besieged by the revolting Greek troops. After four month siege on August 1821 Greek hero Tzannetakis Grigorakis entered the city and proclaimed independence from the Turks.

Places of Interest in Monemvasia

Christos Elkomenos Square (Monemvasia)

     

Christos Elkomenos Square is most famous for the Cathedral of Christos Elkomenos. This Monemvasia church was constructed in 1293 after visit of Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos to the city. It is the largest church in the city. In 1697 it underwent extensive reconstruction by the Venetian governor.

The Church of Ayia Sophia (Monemvasia)

 

The Church of Ayia Sophia or Saint Sophia or Saint Wisdom was constructed in the late 13th century during reign of Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos. It stand in the Upper City on a highest cliff. During reign of the Ottoman Turks it was converted to a Muslim mosque. It was reconstructed in the 1950's.

Church of Saint Nicholas (Monemvasia)

Church of Saint Nicholas was constructed during Venetian Rule in Monemvasia in 1703. It was later looted and badly damaged by the invading Turkish troops. After the Greek Revolution of 1821 it was turned into a primary school. One of the students  included famous Greek hero and Resistance member Ritsis Yannis. He fought against the Germans during World War II and after his death (1990) was buried here in his home town.

Church of the Blessed Virgin Hrisafitissy (Monemvasia)

Church of the Blessed Virgin Hrisafitissy was constructed in the 15th century on a site of much order church. Its name is derived from the icon of the Virgin Hrisafitissy that is kept here. The icon came from a village of Hrisafitissy hence the name. Locals believe that the spring underneath the cathedral has positive influence on a health of a person. Some even claim that it is good for conception of children. Whatever the case it is certainly very clear and won't kill you. As it happened to many Christian shrines, Church of the Blessed Virgin was looted by the Turks who turned it into a warehouse for wheat. After Greece gained its independence back it was transformed into church again.

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mirtidiotissa (Monemvasia)

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mirtidiotisa is a small Christian church constructed in 1690 during second Venetian rule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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