The Castle Town of Monemvasia is a renowned historical monument, as well as a main attraction for thousands of visitors from all over the world.
There has lately been a methodical effort to preserve and bring out parts of the castle that designate Castle Town through a new impressive perspective.
After the restoration of Chrisafitissa square, the works in the temples of Panagia Mirtidiotissa and Agia Anna, the renovation works in the eastern wall of Lower Town have been completed.
Consequently, this unique place exudes through its new context, a fresh viewpoint keeping its character and its 15 century history, intact, while at the same time making its visitor feel part of this particular history.
The project “restoration and enhancement of the eastern wall of the lower Monemvasia” was supervised by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lakonia (EFA.LAK) from 1/09/2012 to 21/12/2015 within the framework of the Operational Programme Western Greece – Pelloponese – Ionian Islands (DEPIN 2007-2013). It was jointly funded by Greece and the European Union. The project’s budget stood at 450.000.000 euros.
The eastern wall was a segment of the fortified enclosure of the Lower Town. It is a straight defensive wall, of a total length of 80, 60 meters, placed crosswise on the ground’s curves of equal height.
At the north end of the wall there is a tower with a bastion. The interior of domed tower is split into two levels by a wooden floor, while there is a fireplace which served the guards’ accommodation needs.
On its southern corner there is a small, domed tower – guardhouse with two small arched openings which is linked with the seaside wall, which in the Venetian documents of that time, is cited as “Posto di San Rocco”. On a lower level, there are two cannon stations and one emplacement for small guns.
Excavations along the surfaces of the fortifications revealed significant data. Externally, the works located remains of a water reservoir as well as pillars dating back to the original defensive wall. On the inner side of the wall the excavations revealed cobblestone streets and a three – part domed cistern. A deserted church that belongs to the one – aisled domed basilicas also came to light. The church erected in late Byzantine times, in the years that followed, fell into ruin and part of its apse was incorporated into the fortified wall’s foundations.
The data that came to light document the reconstruction of the eastern wall with its tower and guardhouse, within the framework of defensive reconstruction works carried out by the Ottomans at Monemvasia in the 17th century, as confirmed by written evidence. During the second period of Venetian Rule (1690 -1715) the bastion was added in the northeastern corner of the wall while extensive repairs took place.
Restoration works were implemented according to an approved study compiled by the scientific personnel of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lakonia (former 5th EBA).The static and construction problems of the eastern wall were restored thus highlighting morphological and structural elements which have incorporated in an impeccable way with the network of the fortified castle of Monemvasia.
In order to enhance the information about the restoration works of the Eastern Wall of Monemvasia’s Lower Town, signs addressed to visitors containing information on the construction and its supervision were put up. A leaflet was published in Greek, English and in the Braille tactile writing system. A film was designed and is on display at the Archaeological Receipts Fund Building (TAPA) located at the castle-city’s main gate.
The Castle Town of Monemvasia is located in a privileged geographical position which always allowed it not to be visible from land and consequently be impregnable from sea. Monemvasia was organized according to the threefold model of fortification.
Its acropolis stood at its highest elevation, while lower there were two rows of fortified enclosures, all of which formed a city that was segmented.
Its inner enclosure complemented the natural fortification offered by the steepness of the rock. It was built on and delineated the Upper Town segment which served as the city’s administrative and military center and contained the residences of the aristocracy. On three sides, the outer enclosure girded and protected the Lower Town, the commercial hub of the Castle T own of Monvemvasia, where the workshops and homes of the sailors and tradesmen were to be found.