It is said that there were once 40 churches in the Monemvasia fortress. Today several of these are still standing, first and foremost Aghia Sofia in the upper town, the only structure still in good condition there. The view is breathtaking – when the right weather conditions prevail it is possible to see as far as the mountains of Crete.

In the main square of the lower town in front of the cannon is the church of Elkomenos Christos, where the most important Christian artifact in Monemvasia is kept – an impressive icon depicting the Crucifixion. Its theft 32 years ago was a great blow to the faithful of Monemvasia, but fortunately it was recovered in 2011.

In Chrysafitissa Square is the church of the same name, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Also important are the churches of Myrtidiotissa and Aghios Nikolaos although the latter, according to local legend, has never functioned as a church.

Aghia Sofia (Hodegitria)

A church with an octagonal dome, built in the 12th century (1149-1150). Carvings date from the 12th century and frescoes from the end of the 12th and the early 13th centuries.

Oral and written reports link the church to the Byzantine Emperor Andronicos II Palaiologos (1282-1328).

According to historical sources, it was dedicated to the Virgin Hodegitria.

After the Greek war of independence  in 1821 it was rededicated to Aghia Sofia as it was believed to be a faithful replica of Aghia Sofia in Constantinople, the former Byzantine capital.

During the first Turkish occupation it was used as a mosque with the addition of of a mihrab and minaret on the south side.During the second Venetian occupation it served as the cathedral of a monastery of the Western doctrine dedicated to Madonna del Carmine, with the addition of a two-storey exo-narthex.In the second Turkish occupation it was again used as  a mosque until the town was liberated in 1821, when it once again became a Christian place of worship.

The western side was restored in 1827 and in1846; the entire church underwent considerable restoration by Evstathios Stikas in 1958-59.




Take any path leading up from the central thoroughfare in the Lower Town to reach the Upper Town at the peak.

Avoid the hottest time of the day and be sure to wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes.

Upper Town, Monemvasia fortress

Free entrance. For opening hours please call 2732061403.

Fortress Churches