1.  THE UPPER TOWN (GOULAS): The Upper town (named Goulas), nowadays in ruins and listed as an archaeological site, is built on a plateau of the summit of the rock, at 300m above sea level. It was the military and political center and the place of residence of the aristocracy of the castle town.

The ascent to the Upper Town constitutes a unique experience. The stepped road is carved in the rock, in a very good condition, offering magnificent views to the town underneath and the sea. The route that goes through vaults, passages, different buildings and cisterns,   leads to the octagonal Church of St. Sophia, which is built on the most precipitous side of the rock. It was built by the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus B’ between 1287 and 1328, and has been recognized as a miniature copy of the named church in Constantinople. It is considered one of the most important churches of meso-Byzantine period in the whole of Peloponnesus. On the area of the Upper Town there are remnants of byzantine manors, hamam buildings, and the two grand public cisterns that were used for the collection of the rain water, the only source of water for the whole castle town.

Η εκκλησία της Αγίας Σοφίας στο Γουλά

2.  TOUR AROUND THE ROCKY SIDE OF MONEMVASSIA- proposed for the more adventurers. The old path that surrounds the north, rocky and bare side of Monemvassia has been signed in all its length (about 2 km). You start from the eastern Gate of the castle (after the Chryssafitissa Church) and continue the path that passes from the Light House. The path terminates in the bridge. Some parts are difficult (climbing on rocks etc) but the whole tour will reward you with the wild natural beauty, the caves, the rare flora and the extraordinary landscape. Before reaching the bridge there is a place for swimming.

3.  TOUR ON THE RAMPARTS OF THE CITY WALLS AND THE PORTELLO

CITY WALLS: Romantic tour along the ramparts of the city walls towards the sea. The path is easily accessible from the church of Chryssafitissa and terminates around the Central Gate of Monemvassia.

PORTELLO is the sea gate to the castle town. In summertime the narrow piece of land offers a rare place for swimming with background the city walls, while during winter time the view of the wild beauty of the sea is fascinating. 

4.  TOUR IN THE NARROW STREETS OF THE DOWN TOWN

In the narrow, pebble lined, streets of the town you will have the chance to admire two to three stories houses, beautifully aligned to form street façades of outstanding architectural value,  byzantine small churches  mixed up with the houses, vaulted passages,  walled gardens with high  trees etc.  Scenery that takes you back to another era.

Inside the castle there are about 25 churches and chapels, a lot of still in ruins. In the central square is eminent the parish church of  “Elkomenos Chrystos” with  a rare icon (in secluded, visited area) and its Bell House. Just above dominates the Church of St Mary the “Myrtidiotissa”, which has just been restored and soon will be visited, while St Nicolas is featuring cultural events and conferences. St Mary “Chryssafitissa” is located in a large square with amphitheatrically steps, a perfect stage for marriages and baptisms, as well as summer festivals and nights of music or theater. The Mosque  in the central square houses a very interesting and important archaeological collection from the Monemvassia area.

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5.  WALKING PATH from the Lazaretto Hotel to the Upper Gate

A path, recently restored, that extends parallel (but at a higher level)   to the road that connects the New with the Old town of Monemvassia. Great views within a wild and rocky natural environment. You can take the path from the main market street (corner of “Chryssovoulo” restaurant) and climbing up to reach the Upper Gate you will have a chance to pass in front of St Ann the Katholic Church, recently restored, and admire the town laying in front of you.  

6.  VISIT TO GERAKAS PORT AND FIORD: Within a wild, imposing landscape of natural beauty, this little port in the interiors of the sea fiord is one of the most remarkable spots of Laconia prefecture, in a small distance from Monemvassia. In the sea front you will enjoy fresh fish and sea food in the numerous little taverns.

7.  VISIT TO THE MONASTERY OF EVANGELISTRIAS

Perched at the edge of a cliff, exposed to all winds, this lonely building (as described by Elle Emke) the monastery has been built in the mid 19th century by Kyriakos Stournaras, a doctor- botanist who came from Hiperos and lived in a cave of the opposite mountain. The route towards the monastery is marvelous, the nuns will welcome you.

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8. VISIT TO MISTRAS: The castle town of Mistras, nowadays an archaeological site, constitutes one of the most important post Byzantine towns, enclosing into its medieval murals very important monuments, such as monasteries and churches with magnificent frescoes, palaces, manor and ordinary houses in neighborhoods. The cone shaped hill bordering a cliff, was named Mystras or Myzythras, and due to its natural fortification was, was on itself an important strategic place.

Mystras was fortified by the Franks in 1246 and 100 years later in 1349 became capital the of the semi autonomous Despotat of Moreas. One of the most important Despots of Mystras was K. Palaiologos the last Emperor of  Byzantium. Between 1460-1540 and under Turkish rule it became one of the most prosperous  market and production place of silk in the eastern Mediterranean.  On the years of Greek Revolution against the Turks, in 1821, Mystras was ravaged and abandoned gradually, while   in 1953 the Greet State decided on its expropriation and its enhancement as an archaeological site. In 1989 Mystras was declared  a part of the global cultural heritage and a protected settlement by the UNESCO.

Among its most outstanding monuments are the church of St. Sophia on the upper neighborhood, the Churches of St. Demetrius, St. Theodore and St Mary the Odigitria on the lower neighborhood, and finally the churches of Perivleptos,  Evangelistria and the monastery of Padanassa in the middle neighborhood. The Palatial complex has also been restored extensively lately, representing a rare sample of post Byzantine palatial architecture.

9.  VISIT TO GERAKI : If you are staying for some time in Monemvassia and are interested in archaeology, a visit to Geraki is worthy. It is one of the latest enhancements of an archaeological site in the area by the Ministry of Culture.

The archaeological site extends on the hilltop with traces of a settlement, mainly though of important byzantine churches with frescoes, of the same period as Mystras and Monemvassia, which have been beautifully restored and enhanced. Those are the churches of Evangelistria (11th century) St Nicolas (14th century) St. John Chrysostomos (12th century) St Athanassios, St John and St. Ilias. The tour was conducted by the site guard.

The modern town of Geraki  is found nearby and is very interesting. It is laid on the site of the ancient settlement “Geronthrai” (a prehellenic name) and has conserved the character of neoclassical cities of the periphery, distinguished by nice townhouses and important byzantine churches.

10.  KASTANIAS CAVE

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