Monemvasia, the "Gibraltar" of the East!
An area of incomparable natural beauty, with a long and rich history, a field of military operations and sieges, birthplace of the Malvasia wine.
In ancient times Epidaurus Limira was an important city of Laconia. Neighboring Monemvasia, then called Akra Minoa - a toponym denoting a port settlement, supported Epidaurus Limira in being an intermediate station and sea route between Mycenaean and Minoan civilizations.
The castle state of Monemvasia was founded in the 6th century AD. from the resettlement of Lacones from Sparta. It developed into a commercial and artistic center, mainly during the 11th - 14th centuries, while it was a business center and a military base. It was the original seat of the Byzantine administration of Peloponnese (1262-1289).
In 1464 Monemvasia was conquered by the Venetians. In 1540 it was handed over to the Turks and in 1690 it was again occupied by the Venetians. In 1715, the Turks bought Monemvasia from the Venetians and killed or captured all local lords. On July 21, 1821, Monemvasia was liberated, after a four-month siege by the rebel Greeks, with the Turks handing over the keys of the city to Prince Al. Katakousino.
The Upper Town of Monemvasia was an administrative center and a place of residence for aristocratic families. The citadel was at the highest point and further down two fortified precincts that separate it from the Lower Town, where the commercial center was located with the shops and houses of sailors and merchants.
An important element of the region's wealth was the production and trade of products, mainly Malvasia wine. The vineyards in the surrounding area, the limestone and shale soil, the hot and dry climate with high levels of solar and wind energy, ensure ideal natural ventilation conditions for production of wine.
Today, the walls of the castle town, the old mansions, the narrow cobbled streets, the arches, the churches, the Byzantine icons give the impression of a city untouched by time.
Wander around the castle town, let your senses take you on a mystical journey to the past of the medieval scenery, enjoy the breathtaking views! Follow the proposed routes, visit the points of interest in the surrounding area and discover the Malvasia wine routes. Places full of beauty, mystery and charm, history and traditions, experiences, aromas, tastes and wine.
Taste the Malvasia Myth!
Drinking Malvasia: the ritual
The name Monovasia (Malvasia or Monemvasia) is mentioned in an old Greek folk song, which is collected by Michail Lelekos in his Anthology of Folk Songs (1868).
Whose is the mug
and the monovasia?
This is George’s….
Raise it up
and lower it.
Drink it at once,
let the top find the bottom.
A traditional remix of this song is very usual in wedding celebrations or other feasts in the islands of Karpathos and Crete. The company sings the song "I koupa i monovasia" and each time urges one (by saying his/her name) to empty a glass of wine at once. Then it goes to the next one, and so on. This is not just a song, but a kind of ritual, raising the glass high (for life) and lowering it low to the earth (for death). This living cultural heritage is apparently connected to the famous Malvasia wine.
Based on stories about Catalan pirates in Monemvasia, traditional songs include lyrics to praise the healing properties of Malvasia wine: