A large number of historic monuments are scattered throughout the Municipality of Monemvasia. As in the rest of the Peloponnese, there are numerous reminders of the region’s turbulent history of invasion and wars, but also of its human achievements.
Its past history emerges in the writings of that traveller of antiquity, Pausanias, who described in detail the most important monuments in the region, such as the town of Epidaurus Limera, still prosperous when he visited it, and traces of which still stand facing Monemvasia. Ruins of other ancient towns still remaining include Ancient Kyphanta, at Kyparissi, and the fortress of Zarakas, at Gerakas.
The Municipality of Monemvasia is perhaps one of the only places in the world where there are not one but two submerged ancient towns – the prehistoric settlement of Pavlopetri near Neapoli and the ancient town of Plytra, at Asopos, both now largely under water as the result of seismic activity throughout the Maleas peninsula. The ruins of both are visible to swimmers using goggles and snorkels.
The existence of a number of fortresses shows that the region was subjected to repeated invasions. From antiquity, but particularly in the Middle Ages, the local population was forced to fortify its settlements in order to survive the repeated wars, invasions and pirate raids. The most important of all – and one of the most beautiful medieval towns in the Mediterranean – is the fortress of Monemvasia, for many centuries an invincible bulwark but also a place of prosperity and culture.
Smaller fortresses and fortification works worth visiting include the fortress of Aghia Paraskevi near Mesochori, and the ruins of Palaiokastro at Papadianika.
A military monument from the more recent past is the German Watchtower built during the World War II occupation above the village of Velanidia, near Cape Maleas.