A short history

Founded on a rock off the eastern shore of the Peloponnese in the late sixth century A.D, Monemvasia was populated by the inhabitants of Sparta. Its strategic position on the main maritime routes along the Mediterranean converted it to an important commercial maritime center. This favorable location for Monemvasia came to an end in 1893 with the opening of the Corinth channel, which dramatically reduced maritime traffic. The citizens retained their ancient institutions, while they developed maritime activities, both military and commercial. During the Middle Ages, the city was renowned across Europe for its special sweet wine variety, known as “malvasia”.

The eleventh and twelfth centuries were particularly prosperous for the city, and it remained a centre of commercial activity during the last Byzantine period. When the Turks seized Byzantium, Monemvasia first came under Papal and then Venetian rule, evolving historical conditions led to its gradual decline. The Venetians handed the city over to the Turks in 1540 and later returned in 1690 for a period of 25 years. After a second Ottoman occupation, Monemvasia was the first city to be liberated by the Greeks during the War of Independence in 1821.

Today Monemvasia preserves its reputation and keeps attracting visitors from all corners of the world because it embodies a rare example of a rich historical settlement that has never ceased being inhabited and still remains “alive”, while at the same time it combines a spectacular natural beauty with the careful preservation of its unique local architectural style.

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