The Municpality of Monemvasia, like other parts of the Peloponnese, boasts a large number of historic monuments that have survivied the passage of time. Ranging from prehistoric to classical, Byzantine to the more recent past, these include the unique medieval fortress of Monemvasia, with its well-preserved buildings of the Lower and Upper Towns, and the exhibits in the Monemvasia Archaeological Collection.

Meanwhile the folklore musuems of Velies and Riechia provide a wealth of information about the region’s daily life and culture.

The Christian tradition, another important aspect of the region’s history, is represented in dozens of churches and monasteries that are witness not only to the local population’s spiritual life but the skills of their master craftsmen and artists who built and decorated these places of worship.

Cultural life in the Muncipality of Monemvasia today takes the form of all kinds of events such as concerts, theatrical performances and art exhibitions. The biggest cultural festival is the Ritseia, a major celebration in summer dedicated to the poet Yannis Ritsos, Monemvasia’s most famous son, whose work has received recognition around the world.

‘Items of identification’

The date of my birth is probably 903 B.C. – but also quite probably 903 A.D. I studied the history of the past and the future at the contemporary School of Struggle. My profession: words piled on words – what could I do? Ragpicker they called me. And it was true. I collected a whole heap of ostrich feathers from the hats of the subterrestrial Maiden, buttons from military duffel coats, and the tobacco pouch of the Great Blind Man. At the Registry these last years they gave me the most improbable date of my birth: 1909.
I adjusted to this and the stayed put. Finally in 3909 I sat on my stool to smoke a cigarette. Then the flatterers arrived; they bowed down before me and on my fingers placed glittering rings. But these ignoramuses did not knowI had myself made them from their empty cartridges left on the hills.
Because of this exactly, because of their lovely ignorance, I rewarded them richly with genuine precious stones and double doses of flattery. At my rate, the only certain item is the place of my birth: Akra Minoa.
Karlovasi, 18.8.75


Rock. Nothing else. The wild fig tree and the ironstone.
An armed sea. No room at all for genuflection. Outside the Elkomenos Church gate a crimson in the black. The old women with their cauldrons bleaching the longest woven cloth in history suspend on rings from the forty-four Byzantine arcades. The sun a merciless friend with his lance on the walls opposite and death disinherited within this vast illumination where the dead interrupt their sleep now and then with cannon fire and rusty lampposts, going up and down on step after step carved in the rock. They strike their tinder boxes against the edge of their palms until the sparks fly. I – he said – will climb higher, above the soft continuation, stepping on the dome of the large submarine church with its lit candelabra. I with the blue bone, the red wing and the pure white teeth.
Monovasia 28.9.74