Introducing Gefyra & Monemvasia
Vast, imposing, spectacular Monemvasia (mo-nem-vah-see-ah) is the Greek equivalent to France’s Mont Saint Michel. This perfect fortress is an iceberglike slab of rock moored off the coast, with sheer cliffs rising hundreds of feet from the sea, and a single highly defendable causeway.
In summer Monemvasia (and its mainland counterpart Gefyra), 99km southeast of Sparta, brims with visitors, but the extraordinary visual impact of the medieval town – and the delights of exploring it – override the effects of mass tourism. Only eight people are permanent residents. The poet Yannis Ritsos was born and lived here for many years.
From Gefyra, you can see little of Monemvasia. But cross the causeway and follow the road that curves around the side of the rock and you will come to the official entrance, a narrow tunnel in a massive fortifying wall. The tunnel is L-shaped, so the magical town is concealed until you emerge, blinking, on the other side.
If you sleep at one of the many excellent guesthouses on the rock, surely one of the most atmospheric places to stay in Greece (and there aren’t that many places in the world where you get the chance to sleep on a World Heritage–listed site), you’ll have many of the narrow cobbled streets – and heart-stopping sea vistas – to yourself.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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