The Gibraltar of the East
The Byzantine fortress town of Monemvasia, the “stone ship” referred to by the poet Yiannis Ritsos, stands sentinel on the southeastern coast of Laconia, ready to take its visitors on a historic journey back through the ages.
Castles, walls, old mansions, narrow cobbled lanes, churches, low arches and vaults, coats of arms, imperial marble thrones, Byzantine icons all give the impression of a town untouched by time.
Referred to variously throughout the ages as the Gibraltar of the East, the Castle above the Clouds, or the Castle of Flowers, among others, it is situated on a small islet linked to the mainland by a causeway and bridge, as if floating on the edge of the Myrtoon Sea.
The single entrance that gives the rock its name (moni emvasia in Greek) is a passageway into its past, beginning in the 6th century AD.
Unsuspecting sailors will be pleasantly surprised as they turn into the port of Gerakas, entering a fjord-like inlet referred to to Pausanias as an excllent port of call.