December 6, 2011

Monemvasia, Greece. October, 2011

Our only stop in the Peloponnese, this beautiful medieval town has, like many coastal towns in Greece, an old city and a new one. This is the old one, a pedestrian-only island connected to the mainland by a thin causeway (off the left of the photo) that can barely accommodate the width of one car. (Monemvasia actually means “single entrance.”) The city was founded by the Byzantines in the sixth century and, as with other fortified ports in this part of the world, was conquered by the Franks, the Byzantines again, Catalonian mercenaries, Turks, Venetians, Turks again, Greeks, and now by tourists. Cobbled alleys and paths, many staircases built into steep cliffs, houses established wherever space appeared, often on the cliffs themselves between existing structures. Look at the top over towards the right. See the domed building? It, too, has a checkered past. Built in the 12th century as a Byzantine church (one of 40 in the small town), it became a mosque under the Turks and a church under the Venetians, etc. It’s called Agia Sofia reportedly because it was said to resemble its namesake in Constantinople. Only about 100 times smaller. Still, a lovely visual reward for our vigorous climb to the top.

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