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Travel: Monemvasia, Elafonisos Island, Sunken city of Pavlopetri.Poloponnese, Greece. July 3 &4/2021

Updated: Jul 6, 2021


Continuation from the previous post on the Poloponnese (here)


Gythio


The largest town in the region of Man, Gythio is authentically beautiful seaside town on the Eastern southern shore of Peloponnese, in the peninsula of Laconia,

A secluded barren place with ghost villages and wild landscape, it was an important the seaport of Sparta, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) north, until it was destroyed in 4th century AD, possibly by an earthquake.

Mavrovouni is most popular beach in Gythio for its golden sand and the crystal water, also preferred by the endangered sea turtles Caretta-caretta to lay their eggs.

The town is a road-base for trips to Monemvasia, Mystras, Areopoli, Diros Caves, and Stoupa, which we visit all, or still will, excluding the caves that are closed.


Pantheon city hotel 2733 022289

Is the hotel we spent the night in before we continued to an amazing resort at Monemvasia

The Pantheon Hotel in Gythio is situated right on the water-front, over-looking the Bay where sea-side views, the fishing harbor, and the hills around, could be enjoyed, straight from our large airy balcony, on the 4th floor.

Had it not been bloody hot, the experience of staying at this low cost city hotel, we checked into, as David tired out, could have been a nice experience.


Yet the “suite“ we got, though had a huge balcony in which the felt sea breeze

was a true blessing, both 2 air-conditions in the room defunct, and the .back and forth with the hotel receptionist led to no change in this unfortunate situation.


David, who also in the previous nights enjoyed sleeping under the stars at the porch of Navarino Resort, was delighted to also spend this hot night on the balcony's floor, being cooled off by the sea breeze. I had a very hot sleepless night on a "suit" bed...


The following day, when we encountered the first other Israelis on the trip, they shared

that they also spent an overnight in Gythio area, at a brand new suite Hotel named

Margo Beach Hotel which they liked, set right on the nice Mavrovouni Beach, at a distance of 2 km from Gythio.

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It was about a short hour morning drive from Gythio on the west side of the bay to Monemvasia on the south eastern side, via a low hilly landscaped, dotted mainly with olive and orange trees, revealing, alos beautiful seaside vistas.



Checking into our next hotel which is located 7 km away, from Monemvasia Rock was after 1:00pm, so it was well spent time, despite the heat, "scanning" the bakeries in the new Monemvasia town below, before heading up to the old medieval town on the Rock's bottom, where we wondered its narrow steep allies.


Monemvasia- single passage.

See video


This impressive Medieval Castle/Fortress Town, which reminded us of the famous French Mt Saint Michele one, is located on a small island in the southeastern coast of Peloponnese, and is entirely carved on the backside of a hug sea rock, not visible to enemies from the mainland. The rock may have been the site of a Minoan trading post.



The town and fortress were founded in 583AD by inhabitants of the mainland seeking refuge from the Slavic and the Avaric invasion of Greece.



From the 10th AD, the town developed into an important trade and maritime center.

The fortress withstood the Arab and Norman invasions in 1147.

It remained part of the Byzantine Empire until 1460. The rock was governed by the Venetians until the treaty of 1540,. The town was liberated from Ottoman rule in 1821



The only way in the past, to reach Monemvasia was by boat, while later on a paved short causeway 200m in length constructed to connect the castle entrance, to the mainland.

The powerful medieval fortress at the rock's top, its walls and Byzantine churches, all loom above the restored medieval town below, and offer spectacular views.


A walk around the narrow allies and window shopping of the Castle Town's quint small shops, is a travel to the past experience.



The climb up to the restored Aagia Sophia - among the oldest and most important Byzantine churches in Greece, from the 12th C, set at the highest top of the upper fort, we did on the following day's early morning at 7;00am, on July 4th, and before the sun melted us away....


Being the first to arrive at the church, that is open from 8:30am, from Friday to Monday only, the operating priest who makes this excruciating steep climb by foot 4 times each weeks... was please to see us, and immediately lit 2 candles, in our honor at the church.



In the Venetian times, it was converted into a Catholic Convent. After the Greek Independence, it was dedicated to the Wisdom of God and was named Agia Sofia.


Dinning Place

Chrisovoulo Restaurant & Bar +30 27320 62122

A recommended eating palace which main cobbled paved pathway leads to through the castle in the lower old town, if you wish to have a meal on the rock island.


Malmsey wine name. is given from the derived Italian form, Malvasia, and Monemvasia's nickname is the Gibraltar of the East or The Rock.


A new town has been constructed in the mainland, just opposite the rock island



Kinsterna Hotel Monemvasia in Agios Stephanos

info@kinsternahotel.gr Tel: 2732066116


The stoned-wall restored Byzantine-era rural mansion/estate, from 17thc, is tucked away in the folds of the lush hillside, with wonderful views of the Monemvasia's Medieval Castle’s Rock against the blue water sea background, and the surrounding verdant hills, covered by vineyards, olive groves, eucalyptuses and cypresses,



In addition to the intimate picturesque setting, we enjoyed very much the spacious great room with a balcony & view (#46), a superb service, 2 pools, fantastic bathroom olive oil based products, .3 restaurants, and great breakfast.



The Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, is prepared of local products and ingredients self grown and cultivated in the estate's large property

The hotel and its enchanting setting reminded us very much of the

Palma de Mallorca 's Valldemossa Hotel , but the Greek's one was more affordable.


The history of this privately own family resort- manor, dates back to Byzantin, Venetian and Ottoman heritage and architecture.

The earliest known owner was a local Ottoman landlords from the 1800, and the last lived in the manor until late 70th was a Kapitsini descendant.

Kinsterna Hotel


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Few attractions not to be missed, when driving (an hour) south west from the hotel are:


A day on an Island's Beach


Simos at Elafonisos Island - Best Beach

The least known small Elafonisos Island on the Bay of Laconia is barely populated, and is quite barren but offers amazing beaches. and only rental apartments.



To get to Elafonissos, a drive toward the town of Neapolis, then to the village of Vingliafa gets you to where 2 small ferries which go back and forth continuously, disembark you (and your car) at the island.


The island was a peninsula in ancient times and the sandy isthmus which separates it from the Peloponessos is only a few feet underwater.,as is the "sunken city" near it


Simus is considered to be one of the best Greek beaches consisting of 2 turquoise crystal shallow water beaches,

Megalos (Large) Simos and Mikros (Small) Simos, are divided by a narrow stretch of fine white sand dune.


We headed toward Simos small beach , which in a normal year at high season can get crowded

The ferry from Vingliafa leaves every half an hour, but the one we arrived at, was

up-loading the last 2 cars, the ferry could fit at that round.


Not wanting to wait for the next ferry, we parked the rental car fast, and joined the day passengers, traveling to the Island without cars, for the ferry's short 15 minutes sail.




No Taxis operated on the Island side, but the local bus, shuttering visitors, every 3 hours, around the Island several beaches, dropped us after 10 minutes ride, at the gorgeous small Silos beach. 3 hours later the bus driver picked us up and we did the same way back to the ferry, only the drive around the island, took longer.



Though the small Simos horse-shoe bay beach occupied the largest amount of bathers we encountered, so far at any of the beaches we visited, it was still quite relaxed and only half full. The tranquil shallow water was much warmer then that of Navarino coast


The beach is well-organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, for which charge is on the high end, considering its remoteness .There are also bars and a couple of taverns nearby.

Swimming was a special experience. and when windy, Simos is ideal also

for windsurfing as well.


It was in this remote Silos beach where we heard Hebrew spoken, for the first time on this trip when encountering Avivit Gilad and,Talia their 18 years daughter, a lovely family from Lehavim - the south of Israel, with whom we had a pleasant chat.

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Crossing back with the ferry to the mainland , a stop at the nearby site of the "sunken city" can not be missed. Obviously it is better to dive, but scanning the beach will also

reveal few archeological treasures.


Sunken city of Pavlopetri


The 5,000 years old, city, discovered in 1967, is one of the oldest submerged lost cities, as well as the oldest in the Mediterranean sea.

Pavlopetri is unique in having an almost complete town plan, including streets, buildings, and tombs.


Originally, the ruins were dated to the Mycenaean period, 1600–1100 BC but later studies showed an older occupation date starting no later than 2800 BC, so it also includes early Bronze Age middle Minoan and transitional material.

It is now believed that the town was submerged around 1000 BC by the first of three earthquakes that the area suffered.


I was fascinated by the burial digs and steps to now where by the water edge.


Pavloperti meaning Paul's Stone, is a direct reference to St. Paul, the Christian apostle and martyr who traveled far and wide to spread Christianity.

The city of Pavlopetri is part of the underwater cultural heritage as defined by the UNESCO in the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

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Kastania Cave

Another attraction point in the area are mountainous cave which we skipped.

kastania Cave - impressive caves near the Kastania village closed to Neapoli.


We had great fresh fish we got right on the beach in the plain seaside town of

Neopoli at:

Tzivari Restaurant - Neopoli


Neopoli town is known for its local fresh food served in its sandy beach cafe bars and traditional restaurants.



Located where once the city of Ancient Voion once stood in the past. During the Roman Period the city was an important trading sport. In 375AD a powerful earthquake destroyed the city and the place wasn’t of great importance during the subsequent years.


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To be Continued....