Category Archive : Private Tours

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The rock of Monemvasia or Gibraltar of Greece

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The island of Monemvasia, known as the “Gibraltar of Greece,” is a massive rock rising from the sea and connected to the mainland by a causeway.

The medieval town of Monemvasia dominated by a protective fortress can be reached only through a tunnel; Its name, comes from the words moni, meaning “single,” and emvasi, meaning “entry.” It is truly an amazing sight.

As you approach from over the hills you are hit with the image of an enormous rock in the sea, connected to the land by a narrow bridge.

From the land it looks like just a mountain and if you look more closely you may see a tiny church perched on the top.

However if you cross the bridge and walk around the side of the mountain you will suddenly come to a wall stretching from the sea to the mountain.

Behind the wall is an ancient town protected from all sides by sea, wall and mountain.

Explore the narrow, cobbled streets of this charming town, which was the commercial center of Byzantine Morea in the 13th century.

History

2000 years ago people built up a town at the top of a 300 meter rock to be protected from the barbarians.

The Rock was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 337 AD and today the Monemvasia rock with its castle is actually an island accessible only through an entrance which many years ago used to be a portable, wooden bridge.

This causeway links Peloponessus with the Rock of Monemvasia.

The settlement is divided into two sections, built at different levels, each with a separate fortification.

They built their town on top of the cliff (300m), and it was named upper town.

Then they built a neighborhood close to the sea also protected from walls which was named lower town.

The castle fall to the Franks after 3 years of surrounding in 1249 but they gave it back to the Byzantines in 1262 after the battle in Pelagonia. The Byzantines kept it until 1460. Those two centuries where the golden ages for Monemvasia.

The Monemvasians where trading a sweet red whine called Malvasia, produced from surrounding area.

The people of Monemvasia where very wealthy at that time due to the extensive trading, the privileges they had from the emperors of Costantinople (Istanbul), and due to the fleet they owned.

When Greece was occupied from the Ottomans (Turks) the Monemvasians preferred to pass their town to the Venetians and that was the first occupation by the Venetians, 1464-1550. During that period the Venetians transplanted the wine Malvasia in Crete, Italy and Malta where you may find this kind of wine with small variations.

The castle passed later to the hands of the Turks. A small period of Venetian occupation followed again 1690-1715 and finally Monemvasia was liberated in 1823 during the Greek revolution.

Remains of numerous Byzantine and post-Byzantine buildings are preserved in the area of the Upper Town which is not inhabited today.

The first building when you enter Lower Monemvasia is a house of Greek poet and writer Yannis Ritsos (1909 – 1990). He was born in Monemvasia in the noble family of landowners. His grave is not far from this house.

More info about Ritsos: http://www.mikis-theodorakis.net/ritsos_e.html

What to see and do

What to see and do

After breakfast, walk up to the church on the edge of the cliff atop Monemvasia castle and try your hand at throwing a small iron or steel metal object to the sea (it will be drawn in towards the side of the hill, never reaching the sea, due to a magnetic field emanating from the rocks below).

Beaches: To the north and south of Monemvasia there are beaches 2-3 km from the causeway at Gefyra. Some well liked beaches slightly further away are at Plytra (20 km) and the stretch from Viglafia to Neapoli (35 km) both of which on the west side of the peninsula, across from Monemvasia. The island of Elafonisi has some of the more scenic beaches.

Archaeology: The Richia Museum of Folklore: Richia, about 25 km from Monemvasia in a building of 1875, which was the first school in the village. With farm tools, spinning wheels, clothing and woven items.

Monastery of the Annunciation of the Virgin and Agios Georgios of Gerakas near Gerakas village, founded in 19th century.

There are many caves within easy reach:  Kastania – at Kastania Voion (south of Monemvasia near Neapolis).

Vri Cave is north of Monemvasia with a precipice which you can climb down. You can find the entrance on the south west side and there is a lake below with crystal clear water.

21 km farther a very neat place to visit is Porto Geraka, a small village which landscape reminds small Fiord of the south.

Where to eat & drink – Monemvasia

If want to stay close, choose one of the four tavernas in Monemvasia. Inside the castle there is the Cafe Angelo which is at night a bar and in the morning breakfast is served, with the sound of classic music and a wonderful view. There are also two cafes to enjoy your coffee.

The tavernas on the seafront, over the causeway, at Gefyra, offer good food at good prices. A little further in the new town of Monemvasia you must taste the octopus fried with Ouzo. As there is just one “main” street – only about 200 metres long – you will find the shops, cafes and restaurants in one stroll through the castle.

Video


See the video on Monemvasia

Map


Most of Monemvasia’s residents today live by the port (Gefyra), which is a modern town with supermarkets, travel agency, bus connections and other services. The Rock is about 2 km from the modern port of Monemvasia, about a 20-minute walk or a few minutes by car. Cars aren’t allowed inside the walls of the old town and the parking is outside of the fortifications.

Most of the old town’s buildings are made from stone, and many have been renovated as summer homes for Greeks and foreigners. It’s a sunny town of tiled-roof houses, attractive shops and cafes, pleasant squares, and churches.

 

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

The castle or the rock of Monemvasia

Ancient Messene, known also as Ithome, is an impressive archaeological site that must be included in your itinerary.

Ancient Messene


Messene, the 2nd largest state of Peloponessus, was the capital and cultural center of Messinia, a very significant city-state in antiquity. The area is extremely fertile and lush, and many battles were fought for the control of this region.

A 9km stone strong wall, with towers and battlements, built in 370BC around it, made it one of the most strongly fortified places in ancient Greece. The ruins of the archaeological site, are very impressive, spread out across the peaceful valley of Messinia. With the Arcadian mountains on one side and the valleys down to the sea on the other, the beauty of the scenery is amazing and the view breathtaking. The site, is one of the best preserved in Greece, includes a theatre – one of the biggest in antiquity- the Arsinoe fountain house, an agora surrounded by stoas, which covers an area of about 40 acres with temples of Zeus and Poseidon, the sanctuaries of Demeter and Dioskouroi, an Asclepieion, a beautiful stadium with the gymnasium, a funerary monument, public buildings, houses, the monumental fortifications of the city etc. It also includes an early Byzantine Basilika.

The real jewel is the archaeological site, not only for its undisputed historical value but also for its sheer size. It is a place where you can get a sense of what an ancient Greek-state looked like. Coming to the ancient site, you drive through the massive, well preserved gateway that enables you to form an impression of the fortified wall that surrounded the city. This Arcadian Gate is a marvel among defensive fortifications. A double set of gates separated by a circular courtyard. Huge blocks of stone! How did they transport them, how did they raise them and how did they position them with such accuracy? The answer: this was a culture with an advanced level of technology. They knew about hoisting machines, they knew how to multiply power by mechanical means, they knew how to cut the stone and of course they knew all about its properties.

The main ancient source on Messene is the ancient writer Pausanias, who describes the city in details (155-160 AD). He writes that its walls were stronger than the famous walls of Byzantium and of Rhodes, he represents the Asklepieion as a museum of art works, and he mentions of theatres, temples, sanctuaries, statues, public buildings, springs, tombs, agora, gymnasium…

For a relatively quick visit, you will need at least two hours, since the ancient ruins are widely scattered and you will surely want some time for inner reflection in the theatre-like Ecclesiasterion and the sprawling stadium.

Extensive excavations have been carried out as well as some remarkable restoration work which allows visitors to form a vivid picture of the Asklepeion, the very well preserved Ecclesiasterion and the impressive stadium and gymnasium. Equally impressive are the techniques used for water management, including a stone aqueduct and irrigation system. In 2013, the theatre of ancient Messene, after 2 millennia of silence, opened its doors again to the public. Ancient Messene is included in the Greek list of monuments submitted to UNESCO and is expected to become part of the World Heritage Site Catalogue.

Peloponessus is full of important archaelogical sites. Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia, Nafplion, Mystras, Monemvasia. Combine the visit to ancient Messene in a 2 day tour with another of these amazing archaeological sites and “discover Peloponessus”, or, combine it with something quite different and visit the enchanting gorge of the lakes and waterfalls of polylimnio Messinias.

Location

Location :

Videos

Photo Gallery

 
Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus

See the Corinth canal(photo stop)-Mycenae-Nafplion(short stop)-Epidaurus
Argolis is one of the longest occupied regions in Greece, with evidence of Neolithic settlements. Attractions such as Agamemnon’s fortress at Mycenae, the amazing theatre of Epidaurus, and the elegant city of Nafplion, draw huge crowds of people.

April – October, the tour is organized on Mondays-Tue-Wed-Thu & Saturdays
Nov-Mar, the tour is organized on Tue, Thu, Sat. Sites/museums close at 15:00

Highlights: Corinth canal, the mythical fortified city of Mycenae with the Lions’ Gate, the palace of Agamemnon and the tomb of Atreus, Epidaurus, the sanctuary of Asclepius(the god of medicine), the famous for its amazing acoustics theatre of Epidaurus, and a short photo stop at the romantic and beautiful “Venetian” old town of Nafplion.

Highlights


Legendary MYCENAE – founder of a civilization
Mycenae was the kingdom of mythic Agamemnon. Myths related to history have inspired poets and writers over the centuries from Homer and the Greek tragedies of the classical period. The site was uncovered in 1874 by Heinrich Schlieman, who also found and excavated the site of Troy. You enter the citadel through the famous Lions’ Gate.

Beautiful NAFPLION – the “Venice of Greece”
Modern architecture hasn’t spoiled the old town of Nafplion, which is a feast for the eye. It was the capital of the Greek state in the early 1830s. Here, is the first residential place for the young Bavarian Prince, Otto, the first king of the new country after the revolution against the Turks. The old town is beautiful, with old mansions and paved roads. The town’s fortresses, the Palamidi and the Acronafplia, played a key role during the war of independence. The Venetian influence is everywhere justifying the town’s name as the “Greek Venice”.

The Amazing open theatre of EPIDAURUS
The priests of the sanctuary of god Asclepius were excellent surgeons. The administration of the sanctuary decided to build a theatre on the ground of the sanctuary, to entertain the patients.

Today, next to the sanctuary of Asclepius, there is a small museum, displaying the instruments and tools used by the priests to perform brain operations.

Itinerary


Time plan of the day tour to Argolis

TIME TOUR PLAN SERVICES
07:30 Start the pick up from the hotels Departure from the terminal at 08.30
10:00 Arrival at Corinth canal Short photo stop
11:15 Arrival in ancient Mycenae Visit ancient site & museum
13:00 Lunch in a local restaurant Lunch is optional. See the price paid.
14:15 Drive on to “Venetian” Nafplion Short photo stop at Nafplion
15:15 Arrival at the site of Epidaurus Visit the museum & the theatre
18:30 Arrival in the centre of Athens Drop off at your hotel by 19:30
1 day tour to Argolis Corinth canal-Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidavros

Discounted prices

OUR DISCOUNTED OFFERS for the One day guided tour to Argolis, are:
1) For the guided tour with lunch = 87.00 €
2) For the guided tour without lunch = 80.00 €
3) For the guided tour, NO lunch and NO entrance fees = 59.00 € (enabler’s price. Click here.)
4) For the students’ enabler price, NO lunch and NO entrance fees = 49.00 €, (click for details),

All the above prices include:
– transportation by modern buses
– Pick up / drop off from your hotel or near it (See our list of hotels in the footer)
– Services of the professional tour guide all along.
– Lunch and entrance tickets are optional and depend on the price that you pay.

In this private tour, entrance fees, lunch, and drinks are not included in the price.

Map


Map for one day tour to Argolis (Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidaurus)

One day tour to Argolis (Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidaurus)

One day tour to Argolis (Mycenae-Nafplion-Epidaurus)

Video

Acropolis

Athens’ City guided tour, with a visit to the Acropolis & the New Acropolis museum.

Athens city fully guided sightseeing tour, visiting Acropolis and the New Acropolis museum. (entrance tickets are included).

 

Athens' City guided tour, with a visit to the Acropolis & the New Acropolis museum.

Athens’ City guided tour, with a visit to the Acropolis & the New Acropolis museum.

Acropolis

Acropolis

The tour :
Depart for PANATHINAIKO STADIUM, where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896 (short stop).
Pass by the Prime Minister’s residence and the Ex Royal Palace (guarded by colourful Evzones),
the Zappeion Conference and Exhibition Hall and the National Gardens,
The temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, St. Paul’s Church,
The Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown soldier,
Schlieman’s House (today Nomismatic Museum), the Catholic Cathedral,
The ACADEMY, the University and the National Library,
the Old Parliament, Constitution Square, the Russian Orthodox Church, proceed to the
ACROPOLIS (visit Propylaea, Temple of Athena Nike, PARTHENON and Erechtheion, and finish the tour at about 01.30pm, with a visit to the New Acropolis museum.

POLYLIMNIO KAZARMA'S

The lakes of Kazarma at Polylimnio Messinias.

A paradise of nature with waterfalls and small lakes and pools

 

A narrow footpath with picturesque wooden bridges winds through lush green vegetation to a veritable paradise of waterfalls and small pools!

Let the pictures below and the comments of people in trip advisor tell you the rest and persuade you to visit the area. All you need is a pair of good walking shoes, time, and a camera.

Gallery


Photos from the lakes of Kazarma

Polylimnio Messinias. A paradise of nature with waterfalls and small lakes and pool

Map

TripAdvisor Comments

tripadvisor

tripadvisor

Comments in the trip advisor from people that have visited the area of polylimnio in the past:

Untouched natural beauty at its best! Rejuvenating cold water along with small wild life made this trip memorable! Worth visiting!
An amazing waterfall at the end of the lakes with blue waters to swim in !! dont loose it, its an experience of a life time!
Amazing and unique. Travelled the world, but this was an amazing part of Greece. We are a family of 5. Took a day tour with Astoria Travel from Athens to ancient Messene and Polylimnia. Even though it was a long day, it was worth it!
What a discovery. Pristine landscape, gorgeous blue-green colors this area has been perhaps the best kept secret of Messinia.
Heaven on earth! We took a 3 day tour with Astoria Travel visiting ancient Messene, the Polylimnio, ancient Olympia and Nafplio. A tour full of nice memories!