The old town, described by Monemvasia’s own poet Yiannis Ritsos as a «stone ship», has sailed through history under many different names – Akra Minoa, Cloudy Castle, Malvasia, Little Gibraltar, Flower-Scented City, among them - in legend and memories.
Its 40 churches, coats of arms, stone arches, Byzantine domes, its towers and fortified walls all take one back to the times of Saracen pirates, heroic battles and glorious feats. One half expects to be surprised with a glass of the Malvasia wine that was once worth its weight in gold.
At the top of the rock, the ruins of the old town echo to the whisper of the winds that blow from faroff Cape Maleas, across the Myrtoon Sea where once pirate ships and Venetian merchantmen prevailed.
This medieval setting, with its echoes of legend, has endured to enter the modern world as one of the most beloved corners of our planet. No wonder it has been chosen by so many couples as the setting for their marriage vows in an atmosphere that transcends the ordinariness of daily life.
According to tradition, the first mortals were all men who mated with nymphs, who were beings less than gods but higher than humans, to create the human race. That is why a bride is allowed to wear a crown, in addition to the wedding crowns worn by herself and the groom in the wedding ceremony.
Brides and grooms from all over the world are choosing to have their own special day in this fortress town that provides countless opportunities for brides to be photographed as if they were princesses waiting for their knights.
In recent years, both religious and civil weddings are being held there, spreading colour, music and joy, their guests filling the narrow lanes.
The Municipality of Monemvasia has decided to make the most of this trend, extending an invitation to couples from around the world. Other local organisations and businesses have joined in the municipality’s efforts, uniting to form an efficient network of services required in planning a wedding.
The stronger the emotions stirred by life’s special milestones, the deeper are they etched in one’s memory. All of us love looking back on events that have marked our lives, the unforgettable images, the magic of the moment.
Photographers from every corner of the globe have been astonished by Monemvasia’s setting, where the dramatic rocky landscape contrasts with the endless blue of the surrounding sea. On your wedding day, you are both star and scriptwriter. All that is needed is a perfectly compiled wedding album.
As for the wedding ceremony itself, everything from the flower arrangements, bouquets, rings, outfits for every member of the bridal party, the decor for the ceremony and reception, the music can be supplied by professionals of all kinds in Monemvasia itself, experts with the right skills and experience to satisfy the wishes of every couple.
Every season is ideal, whether spring, when nature is in all its glory, or under the summer sun with scent of the sea, or autumn with its earthy colours. For those who prefer a winter wedding, the fortress provides a warm sheltering ambience with its open fireplaces and cosy corners.
A treasure trove of historic Byzantine churches, new and old monasteries are scattered throughout the wider Monemvasia municipality.
From the famous churches within Monemvasia’s old town right down to the «little Mt. Athos» on Cape Maleas, there are sites in magical settings that have made the municipality a famous destination for religious tourism. Church services in a mystical atmosphere attract thousands of the faithful year round and are popular choices for ceremonies.
To name just a few, the Elkomenos Christos within the old town, with its post-Byzantine icons and tumultuous history. A priceless 14th century icon of the Crucifixion is one of hte most important works of the Paleologos Renaissance. The Panayia Chrysafitissa church, built during the first Turkish occupation, has a miracle-working icon.
Away from the old town, the convent of the Evangelistria, on the road between Gerakas and Riechia, has a stupendous view of the Myrtoon Sea.
Two whitewashed chapels by the sea are also high on the list. One is the blue and white Aegean-style church of Aghia Marina at Harahia beach below the village of Daimonia, near Archangelos, where the sunset forms a dramatic backdrop for photographs.
Further down the coast, at the picturesque fishing inlet of Profitis Ilias is the church of the same name, also with a wonderful view and island ambience.
Another favourite choice is the double church of Aghios Nikolaos and Aghi Apostoli on the coast at Elia, near Molai, standing on the long, sandy Tigania beach.
There are dozens more options. For more information, please feel free to contact us at the municipality.
For couples who prefer civil ceremonies, Monemvasia provides a wealth of attractive settings with excellent facilities, for both large guest lists and small gatherings.
Whether within the old town or in the surrounding region, there are romantic sites for every kind of event – terraces and courtyards in a number of styles and with wonderful views. For the ceremony itself, the municipality will provide all the information you need.
The advantage of holding a wedding in Monemvasia is that it combines a perfect setting for the ceremony itself with an unforgettably romantic honeymoon. Guests can combine attendance at the wedding with a holiday.
Just a short distance from the fortress town is a paradise of varied landscapes, a land full of legends and natural wonders to please everyone.
South of the fortress is the unspoiled peninsula of Cape Maleas with the fascinating Kastania Cave, the petrified forest of Vies, picturesque villages clinging to hillsides, countless monasteries, churches and small forts with panoramic views. The seaside town of Neapoli, is a jewel in its own right as well as the gateway to the islands of Elafonisos and Kythira.
Endless sandy or pebble beaches with crystal clear waters, many with recreation facilities, or isolated rocky coves, the municipality’s coastline has something for everyone.
North of Monemvasia tow is the verdant seaside village of Kyparissi, the lovely fjord of Geraka, the villages and emerald beaches of Zaraka or Epidaurus Limira. To the west lie more attractive beaches near the fertile plain around Molai, Elia, not to mention the scenic seaside villages of Plytra, with ruins of an ancient underwater town, and Archangelos.
Remember that the entire Monemvasia municipality is devoid of any kind of industry. It is unspoiled, ideal for seekers of freedom and escape, or just a breather.
For the more energetic, there are opportunities for rock climbing, water sports, hiking, cycling. For sightseers there are ruined castles covered in wildflowers, sunken ancient cities, old watermills, deep gorges, wetlands. All within a short distance of each other.
If relaxing in an armchair and gazing out at the deep blue yonder is your idea of a holiday, look no further. On the mainland side of the little bridge leading to Monemvasia’s old town is the New Town with countless restaurants, cafes, bars, stores and two more swimming beaches.
Dinner time, and sweet dreams
When you sit down to a meal in Monemvasia it is an unforgettable pleasure. The entire region is agricultural, unpolluted, with large tracts of organically farmed land, endless olive groves, orchards and vegetable gardens.
The surrounding sea is a source of delicious, fresh seafood. Excellent vineyards are reviving the former glory of Monemvasia’s once famous Malvasia wine, sought after by the nobility of the time and famous around the world. Production of Malvasia stopped after 1470 and was slowly being forgotten - but not completely. Local vintners are now producing it again from regional varieties of grape that were still growing on higher slopes. Over the past decade the cultivation of these varieties has begun again and in 2010 a sweet white wine was produced. Winemakers of Monemvasia produce a wide range of excellent wines that have won many distinctions.
Also excellent are the region’s other products such as olive oil, honey, Kalamata olives, Vatika onions, to mention just a few.
Among the most popular local dishes are the singlino (smoked meat), sauted sea bream fillet, saitia (small fried pies filled with cheese and herbs), garidopetoules (small fried shrimp), onion tart, gogles, onion croquettes, stuffed courgette flowers.
On to the sweets, and the fame of Monemvasia’s marzipan biscuits (amydalota) has spread far and wide. Other traditional sweets include mouthwatering pastries such as samousades, melintinia, rafiola, diples, flogeres.
Leave the wedding breakfast in the capable hands of Monemvasia’s professionals who are ready to satisfy the most demanding palates.
Naturally there is a wide choice of accommodation for guests throughout the municipality and in the old town itself, including furnished apartments, rooms for rent, family accommodation.
Experienced, professional hoteliers provide a number of romantic options for newlyweds, with suites in restored stone mansions or historic guest houses, many with views of the sea from stone terraces.
And when anniversaries come around, what better way to celebrate than to refresh one’s memories with a glass of Malvasia in one of the most evocative historic towns in Greece.