Tracing History in the Region of Monemvasia & Laconia

In the region of Monemvasia and the wider region of Laconia, one can find an incredible combination of an exceptional natural environment with the presence, at the same time, of a unique cultural environment that man has created almost from his appearance in the planet up to our times.

A few years ago, it became well known that in the caves of Laconia there were found certain fossils of anthropoid Neanderthal which are considered as unique in Europe.  This proves that this place was inhabited by the first anthropoid namely Neanderthal, even millions of years before the first appearance of the human kind in its present form. The main reason for that seems to be that the favourable climate of this region encouraged the survival of human type when the remaining of Europe was still covered with ice.

In short, the region exhibits a continuous cultural presence from the prehistoric age and the cave people of Stone Age, throughout the Classical Antiquity and the Byzantine period.

  • Concerning the Prehistoric Period and the Cave People, three caves were discovered so far in Laconia, all of them full of priceless discoveries: The Kastania Cave in the Municipality of Monemvasia was discovered only some years ago, whereas the two other caves, that is the Lakonis Cave in Gythion and the Kalamakia Cave in Areopoli had been discovered early in 2000.
  • In so far as the Classical and Pre-Classical Antiquity is concerned, there are several important places in the wider region of Lakonia that are definitely associated with the ancient history.  To name just a few, the Underwater Town of Pavlopetri should be mentioned, a submerged town founded in about 5,500 BC, the Submerged Town of Plytra and, of course, the new city of Sparta where the ancient Spartans had lived.
    • Sparta was a dominant ancient Greek city with a significant and efficient military power.  Some sources claim that this was due to its social structure.  Sparta played a catalytic role in the history of Peloponnese. The great heroic act of bravery of the 300 Spartans at the famous battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC continues to fascinate the modern Western culture.
    • Gytheion, the port of Sparta, is said to be the place of from which Belle Helene and Paris left for Troya.
    • Pavlopetri is a prehistoric town and important harbour, which was submerged after a big earthquake in 375 BC.  It is located on the Malea Peniscula in South East Laconia. There is evidence that it was established in about 5 500 BC. Although discovered by a British oceanographer some 40 years ago, it was only recently that marine archaeologists, aided by digital technology, were able to properly survey the ruins.
    • Plytra under Roman rule was one of the most important towns on Cape Maleas. Now, it is a submerged town the ruins of which are visible on the shore and on the seabed. On the coast there are tombs and at least two bath houses, one of which has mosaic floors.
  • Finally, the Byzantine Period is very well represented in the region of Laconia and Monemvasia with the Archaeological Site of  Mystras and the Castle of Monemvasia.