The narrow street of Monemvasia is barely narrow enough for the donkey to wander through. The heat funnels down from the medieval fortress ramparts and the shade is very welcome. Purple bougainvillea cascades over a wall and gernaniums add a pop of colour to the old stone steps. Wooden chairs outside a Greek taverna encourage the passing visitor to sit awhile and watch the world go by. A welcome breeze riffles through the lanes and the church bell tolls the passing hours. The donkey is the only method of transport allowed in Monemvasia and works hard for his keep. Oblivious to the ghosts of Byzantine rulers, Venetian traders and Turkish invaders, he plods slowly up hill, doing his bit to help with the restoration of this ancient citadel, perched on the edge of the Peloponnese.
Originally linked to mainland Peloponnese, the island of Monemavasia has been occupied for centuries due to its strategic position, massive defences and commercial role between the East and West. Known for only having one huge entrance (easier to defend) it’s been a popular tourist destination in Greece since the 1970s. The Lower Town is now a place of boutique hotels, souvenir shops, attractive bars and restauarants along the picturesque streets. The Citadel is in the Upper Town; you need to be fit to walk up the steep hill to get there, but the views are worth it. I visited Monemvasia a few year ago during a holiday in the Peloponnese with Greek friends, one of whom bought me a beautiful silver and turquoise ring from a jewellery shop there. I always wear it on my quirky travels – a lovely momento of this attractive place.