We arrived off Monemvasia after a slow overnight sail from the Island of Milos in the Aegean. As we drew alongside the island the sun was starting to warm the cool air and we were putting away our sails we were greeted by a large loggerhead turtle who seemingly swam about Vega waving us on towards the small fishing harbour on the mainland. What better way to arrive somewhere than being greeted by a turtle, it made the crew of Vega a very happy bunch.
The Castle Town of Monemvasia was constructed in the Medieval Times and became an important trading post and maritime centre. Under Byzantine rule Monemvasia flourished economically and culturally. However, this progress attracted the repeated attacks by pirates until in the early 1400’s the Venetian invaders caused the eventual decline of the Byznatine Empire. Monemvaisa changed hands repeatedly and in the mid 15th century, the Venetians recaptured Monemvasia as it was considered a strategic maritime stronghold. Eventually, Monemvasia was sold to the Ottomans in 1715. Around 1770, when the Russian-Turkish War occurred, Monemvasia started to fall apart economically. Monemvaisa was liberated from the turks in 1821 by greek freedom fighters. Sadly, the town lost its importance as a maritime hub with the opening of the Corinth Canal in 1893 which saw most cargo and freight ships opting to use the canal rather than traverse the Peloponnese giving way to the town today which generates its income through tourism.
Today Monemvasia is a fully restored Byzantine Fortress in a stunning location. You can circumnavigate the island by way of a small track around the foreshore and spend hours exploring the cobbled streets of the town which wind their way up the hillside. Its a fascinating place to explore and as you walk around you are transported back hundreds of years. You can stay in the small boutique hotels in the walled city with views over the deep blue aegean sea. There are stunning bars and restaurants on roof tops where you can soak up the ambiance.
It was another real highlight on our Mediterranean adventure and another ayachtmoretolife must visit destination! To avoid the crowds head there in May or September and if the fishing port is full then it is possible to anchor off both sides of the causeway leading to Monemvasia in calm conditions. But beware of the strong katabatibc winds that the surrounding hills can generate…we had 30 knots for a few hours every night which caused the typical chaos in the port.