There are three museums in the Municipality of Monemvasia, the most important being the Monemvasia Archaeological Collection in the Monemvasia fortress, showing the town’s historical development from the early Christian era until the Turkish occupation.
A quite different aspect is presented in the two folklore museums at Riechia and Velies, where the exhibits relate the customs prevailing in the region, the way agricultural communities in the Peloponnese lived in centuries past. Very interesting is also the working Talanta Watermill and Liotrivi (renovated old olive mill)
Also, there is a small but most interesting silver and goldsmiths’ museum in the main street of the Monemvasia fortress.
Monemvasia Archaeological Collection
The archaeological collection of the fortress of Monemvasia is housed in an old mosque in the main square in the lower town, opposite the town cathedral of Elkomenos Christos.
This small museum contains artifacts chiefly found during work to repair the monuments and surface exploration carried out over the past decades.
The collection consists mainly of architectural sculptures and ceramic objects used in daily life.
The sculptures are from the church of Aghia Sofia and the ruined mid-Byzantine church excavated at the Georgoulas residence, and date from the end of the 12th century. The latter is one of the earliest monuments in the fortress with a marble altar screen.
There are two main groups of antiquities.
A) stone sculptures consisting mainly of architectural members or individual elements from the built environment, dating from the early Christian period (4th-7th centuries AD), the Byzantine period (mid 7th-15th centuries) and the Post-Byzantine period (15th-19th centuries).
B) Ceramic and other small objects used in daily life, household objects or personal items, also dating from the Early Christian period until the later years of the Turkish occupation.
A compass construction containing a map of the fortress in the middle of the museum directs visitors to the various exhibits.
A plentiful supply of water in Talanta kept the town’s 11 watermills busy for decades and provided a good living for the townspeople. Thousands from the surrounding region used to come there to grind their wheat. The water was channeled as far as Plytra on the coast. Even the town’s name is an indication of its former wealth (talanta is an ancient word for a unit of weight and for a monetary unit).
The mechanization of milling led to the abandonment of the water mills and their eventual collapse.
Eventually however, through the efforts of the village cultural association, one of the former mills in the Balis Gorge was restored in 2006. Every Sunday the millstone is set in motion again to give visitors a taste of what was once a way of life. The flour ground from local varieties of wheat is also on sale.
The mill is situated in an idyllic setting, known to locals as Paradisos, of shady plane and walnut trees and shrubs, running water and rocks sculpted by the flow of water.
The mill is also the starting point of a hike through the gorge that terminates at Harahias beach near Daimonia.
Guided tours and hiking to the gorge are provided by:
The watermill is a five-minute walk from the main square in Talanta. Alternatively, although not recommended, the mill is accessible by road from the upper village.
Velies Folklore Museum
The Velies Folklore Museum was founded by the Aghia Paraskevi citizens’ association. Building began in June 2004 and was completed in 2007.
It is situated beside an age-old plane tree and a spring in Velies, two landmarks that are closely linked with the village’s history. A few decades ago this was the heart of the village, where the locals would meet to draw water, bring their animals to drink and to do their washing.
The citizens’ association also restored the spring and the surrounding area, which along with the platform and terraces on the museum roof are the scene of many cultural activities.
The old spring, which used to provide a constant supply of water from its five taps, was mentioned by the poet Yiannis Ritsos, who used to spend his childhood summers in Velies. His sister, Loula Ritsou-Glezou mentions it in her memoir of her brother.
The Folklore Museum opened its doors to visitors on May 16, 2010. Its exhibits include a variety of household and agricultural implements, traditional costumes, embroideries, textiles and other handcrafts among the many other objects from times past.
Riechia Folklore Museum
The Riechia Folklore Museum was established in 1985 thanks to the efforts of local resident Giorgos C. Belesis.
Exhibits focus on the culture and history of the surrounding Zarakas region and include agricultural tools, handcrafts, costumes, photographs of social life in times gone by and from the lives of emigrants, along with publications from the period between the two World Wars.
The museum now belongs to the Municipality of Monemvasia and is housed in a two-store stone building that is a typical example of the architecture of Zarakas.
Riechia is 23 kilometers from Molai and 33 kilometers from Monemvasia. The museum is opposite the primary school. Parking space is available, and there is a bus service from Molai.
Liotrivi (olive mill)
The mansion Liotrivi was for over 100 years the country house of the family Ritsos, until 1930 when the family moved in Athens. It was the beloved country house of the poet, often mentioned in his poems, remembering nostalgic his childhood. After 1930, the mansion was converted into a traditional olive oil mill, which functioned until 1962. Now it is a museum where you can see all the authentic machines and where you can learn about the traditional methods of producing extra virgin olive oil. On the upper floor you can find a poetry area where you can read (Greek and English) from the vast collection of the poet, enjoying the magnificent view from the famous Liakoto. In the old mansion, you can also find an exposition of traditional hand made products and a cellar with local wines.
Liotrivi is located in Velies Monemvasia and has ample parking for its visitors.