Monemvasia isn’t quite your typical Greek island. When you hear those words, “I’m visiting a Greek island!” you probably picture the sandy white beaches of Santorini and Mykonos, or maybe the unique history and culture of Crete. Monemvasia is often called “the Gibraltar of the East” because, well, that’s kind of what it is! It may not be palm trees and windsurfing, but approaching the gigantic cliff from the edge of the mainland as the Mediterranean sea begins to surround you is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Because it’s a giant rock sitting in the middle of the sea (trust me, it’s a thing that looks a whole lot cooler than it sounds!), Monemvasia has been an important fortress, military, and trade base for a long, long time. Like many other sites in the southern Peloponnese, it went back and forth between being controlled by Byzantine Greeks, Turks, and Venetians over the centuries, so Monemvasia’s art and architecture is super unique and diverse—it’s not all that different from Mystras, actually!
If you come with us to Monemvasia, you’ll get to stay at a place called Kinsterna. It’s a 17th century estate that’s been lovingly restored to luxury, but that’s not the draw here. Each room has something unique about it, that’s absorbed something reflecting upon all the history these walls have seen. And that’s not all. Kinsterna is the Byzantine Greek word for “cistern,” so while in Monemvasia, you would be remiss to not take part in the local winemaking. Kinsterna and Monemvasia are famous for their Tsipouro, which is like the Greek version of Grappa: it’s a dessert liquor made from the remains of the grapes used in the winemaking.
Stay for a night or stay for a week, you’ll keep the photos and memories with you forever. Either way, I doubt you’ll think of Greece quite the same was as when you arrived.