No matter how many times you visit Monemvasia, you will always be charmed by the beauty and uniqueness of the Rock of the Castle Town that seems to be emerging in an extremely mystical way from the sea.

“My Mistress Monovasia, my rock boat.

Thousands are your jibs and sails.

And you stand there, always still sailing me all over the world” Yiannis Ritsos wrote in his poem referring to Monemvasia, as a Rock Boat.

o vrahos monemvasia gr 7

Η Monemvasia developed on a limestone rock, visible from the shore. The rock extends to a northeastern direction and lies 20 nautical miles away from Cape Maleas.

Its length is 1, 5 km and its platitude extends to 600m. The vertical rocks rise above and around the perimeter of a band of land, near the sea. It is sometimes slanted and some other times terraced; its platitude changeable, while high above the vertical cliffs a large tilted, relatively plane surface is created, at an altitude not more than 200m.

The geological formation of the rock has been being modified since old periods of time, while the transformations having taken place over the last 3,000 years are of a quite small scale- especially since earthquakes are not a really frequent phenomenon in the area-and have consequently sculpted the particular landscape, with relatively small uplift and subsidence.

Therefore, local writers have reported that the rock of Monemvasia was created after a volcanic explosion in 375 BC, causing a geological upheaval of such a great scale that led to the emergence of the Rock from the depths of the sea.

There is actually reference of an earthquake that took place in 365 BC, followed by a tsunami, with its epicenter between Italy and the Peloponnese, but the geological consequences could not have been of such extend as presented by the local historians of Monemvasia, as well as by other writers in different historical periods.

The morphology of the Rock that Strabo saw in the 1st century AD and was described as Minoa Fortress by him and Minoa Akra by Pausanias, a century later, was not so much different from what it is today. Furthermore, the enunciation of the two ancient writers does not correspond with the version that the Rock was an island, back then. As a conclusion, the induction that it was somehow connected with land has been deduced.

The port authority headquarters, along with other facilities that pre existed the establishment of Monemvasia determined in a way the new town planning. The bridge and its parts, along with the Lower and Upper Town constituted the actual town, while there were various other parts on the Rock, which covered a range of different uses. Also, cultivation was nonexistent.


(The passage is based on research, evidence and information from the book “Monemvasia, a Byzantine City State” by Haris A. Kalliga, Potamos publications)

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