Monemvasia, known at the Franks as Malvasia is a small historic town in eastern Peloponnese in Laconia. It is best known from the famous medieval fortress on the eponymous "rock of Monemvasia". Its name is a combination of words alone and remittances (Moni and Emvasi in Greek). The history of the castle is lost in the centuries.
A very strong earthquake in the late 4th century AD was cause the dettachment of a part of the land, forming in essence a small island connected with a bridge with the modern coastal city on the Laconian coast. Around the 6th century Laconians fled there, in order to protect themselves from the incursions of the barbarians. During the Byzantine era, the settlement was the center of Byzantine military operations, from which the Lower City was built on the eastern shore. In the period between 13th to 14th century AD Monemvasia experienced unprecedented prosperity, particularly in the areas of trade, shipping, arts and literature.
Throughout its history, Monemvasia was faced with many raids. It was repeatedly claimed by the Turks, who eventually bought it out in 1715. The previous owners, the Venetians called Monemvasia "the violet city" and the Turks "the fortress of violets", indicative both for its beauty. In March 1821, after a siege, the fortress finally fell into the hands of the Greek Revolutionist forces.
Within the medieval city walls of Monemvasia, the visitor will encounter one of the best best preserved and lively castle towns in Greece. Strolling the surviving main street with its Byzantine path, you will be lost between the countless preserved sights of the town: Dozens of churches, rich merchants mansions, fountains, hamams and winding streets preserve the pure tradition of the region. But like a true tourist attraction, Monemvasia keeps along the main road shops, hotels, restaurants, bakeries and banks. Do not forget to visit at the Upper Town (Apano Poli) the imposing octagonal church of Hagia Sophia.
Monemvasia is the birthplace of the world-famous greek poet Yiannis Ritsos. Today the city is part of the homonymous municipality of Monemvasia based at Molai, Laconia