The impressive size of the rock stands vertically opposite the inland of Laconia. A narrow strip of land and a 130-meter long bridge connects to the inland. This fact of the unique way of access to the inland is the reason Monemvasia was named after (moni emvasi = single entrance). The rock is about 1500 meters long and maximum width 600 meters, while its height reaches about 200 meters. The top of the rock is flat, like a small plateau, while its slopes create abrupt cliffs around it. It comprises two fortified settlements that are invisible from the inland: Kato Poli (the Lower Town – 7,500 m2) and Ano Poli (the Upper Town – 120,000 m2) which is located at the inclined flat of the top. In 375 A.D. a strong earthquake radically changes the soil map of the area. Due to the extraction of part of the land, Akra Minoa becomes an island, the island of Monemvasia. So the rock of Monemvasia from the “close of a narrow and long peninsula”, according to Pausanias, is cut from the shore of Laconia and takes the form of an islet.
Throughout its history, Monemvasia had always been the object of desire of aspirant conquerors who continuously attempted to dominate it as they were aware of its geopolitical significance. The destiny of Monemvasia was parallel with the sphere of influence of the Major Powers of each era. So, from time to time we find Monemvasia under the sovereignty of the Franks, the Byzantines, the Venetians, the Pope, and the Turks. Its residents, within the framework of these evolutions, tried and managed to keep their identity. They supported their positions and resisted bravely, thus they managed to meet the requirements for respective autonomy and maintenance of their privileges.