As you pass through the ancient «sole entrance» (moni emvasia) you find yourself far from the madding crowd. Go back in time, and stay in an idyllic setting.
A jewel dating from the Byzantine era, Monemvasia is an open-air archaeological museum. Founded in the 6th century A.D. by Greeks fleeing the Avars and Slavs who had conquered the continent, this fortress has witnessed a tumultuous history. It belonged in succession to the Byzantine Empire, the Vatican, the Venetians and, finally, to the Ottomans, before the Greek liberation of 1821.
Because of its strategic position controlling the maritime route between Constantinople and Venice, it experienced a rapid development until the apogee of the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century.
Monemvasia was associated with another mediaeval souvenir exported to Europe until the 16th century: a sweet rosé wine «with a bouquet of honey fragrance and in the glass it looked like sapphire»: Malvoisie wine. The French called the city «Malvoisie» for a long time, and the Italians «Malvasia».
It was known to Shakespeare as Malmsey wine. When Edward IV asked the Duke of Clarency upon his condemnation, how he would like to die, and his answer was: «Drown me in a barrel of Malmsey wine!».
Richard III. Act 1, Scene 4