Upper Town Monemvasia

 
October 23, 2016 Oct 23, 2016   Greece, Monemvasia
 
 

One look at Monemvasia and you think this is one defensible place: the upper town, which was occupied before the lower town, is surrounded by a hundred meters or more of rocky cliffs. Better yet, it's an island. Of course if you're holed up here, surrounded by angry hordes, at some point there is the problem of food and water as the climate is dry and the ground is mostly rock. Nothing's perfect I guess.

We are staying at a hotel in the lower town, the occupied area of the island, and so today we explored Monemvasia's unoccupied upper town. The path from lower to upper takes a series of slippery cobblestone switchbacks that end at a small but foreboding door in a big wall. Think Mordor. Once inside the door you pass through a long dark tunnel that is crooked so as to deny any peek of the town beyond.

Unlike the lower town, which is beautifully restored medieval/Greek chic, the upper has no residents or businesses. Instead it is speckled with ruins in various states of decay and reconstruction. The best two of the many ruins are the vaulted building adjacent to to the wall and the large church, the Agia Sophia, that is furthur up the hill and precariously positioned on a cliff edge. We spent several hours here, walking the sometimes confusing paths, climbing the ruins, and looking over the edges of the hill. The views are expansive but you have to watch your step as there are holes that fall into cisterns and cliffs with no railings or barriers of any kind.

The best restored building is the beautiful church of Agia Sophia which, I've read, combines Byzantine, Ottoman, and Venetian elements. It even has some colorful murals inside; these reminded me of murals i saw at Herculaneum and Pompeii.

After hiking down we explored the lower town, walked along the city wall, and then waved goodbye to the Windstar cruise ship yet again; we also encountered it in Santorini and Nafplio.

I don't usually talk food but we had a great dinner of mezes at Voltes Mezedopolio for 25. Like old town Nafplio, there are no tacky fast food places in Monemvasia, every restaurant on the one commercial street looks pretty classy.

 
Sml    Med    Big
 
 
Looking down      
Looking down from the old, abandoned hill top town to the old but inhabited town below.
 
Looking down      
Looking down from the old, abandoned hill top town to the old but inhabited town below.
 
Looking down      
Looking down from the old, abandoned hill top town to the old but inhabited town below.
 
The upper town      
 
The upper town      
 
The upper town      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Drainage      
 
Drainage      
 
Drainage      
 
Murals      
 
Murals      
 
Murals      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
On the edge      
 
On the edge      
 
On the edge      
 
Ruins      
 
Ruins      
 
Ruins      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Monemvasia      
 
Windstar      
 
Windstar      
 
Windstar      
 
Old town      
 
Old town      
 
Old town      
 
Looking towards mainland      
 
Looking towards mainland      
 
Looking towards mainland      
 
Looking towards mainland      
 
Looking towards mainland      
 
Looking towards mainland      
 
Cat      
 
Cat      
 
Cat      
 
City at twilight      
 
City at twilight      
 
City at twilight      
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