Among the most spectacular villages to visit in all of Greece -- I know, what a set-up -- is Monemvasia. And the most spectacular methods of discovering this ancient fortification is by sea.
|Fetching Monemvasia in the morning hours after an all-night sail from the Cyclades.|
|A closer view of Monemvasia as we passed by on the way to the harbor.|
After reading this blog, click on the photos and enjoy them in more detail. One reason we went to visit this place is because it was so highly praised by our sailing friends Heidrun and Berthold. Luckily, I was dazed by the all-night sail and had forgotten what was expecting us. So coming upon this village was a splendid surprise.
|This island, attached to the mainland by a causeway was|
geographically destined to become a fortified city.
In the map above, you can see that our harbor provided us with a terrific view of the island while we stayed there to explore it. In days of yore, the causeway was protected by a huge fortified entrance and a drawbridge. The name Monemvasia means single entrance.
|Jennifer paases unchallenged through the remaining single entrance.|
Despite its seeming impenetrability, Monemvasia was occupied by the usual succession of imperialists over time. Greeks eventually had no need for its protection in the 20th Century and began to abandon it because of the difficulty in accessing it on a daily basis. After WWII, a new village was built on the mainland right by the causeway. We met a sailing couple who visited Monemvasia 20 years ago and said it was completely undeveloped and abandoned. Since then, it has been restored as a tourist destination.
|The main road leading from gate to square inside the walls. Barely|
wide enough for two mules to pass each other.
Inside the village walls, the alleys are narrow and much more convoluted and labyrithine than it appears from sea.
|Stairs under arches. Houses built terrace style almost on top of each other.|
|New meets old. Both the stone and the electricity.|
|All the restoration is driven by tourism.|
Most of the restored buildings have become hotels.
|A hotel lobby inside a domed, cavernous space, surely a barn at one point.|
|The village sqaure.|
|Large parts of the lower village are still in ruins.|
After exploring the alleys, tunnels, stairs, archways, and paths of the lower village, it was time to climb the stairs to the upper village. The whole plateau of the island comprised the upper village and became entirely developed. It too only had one entrance.
|The switchback trail up to the upper village.|
|At the top, this stone road leads to the abandoned church.|
|Nothing more of recognizable form remains of the extensive citadel|
which once capped this island.
|Going down is almost more formidable than going up.|