The Archaeological Collection of Monemvasia presents elements of common memory
and knowledge for the identification of the "the renowned town", whose presence
on the rocky coast of the Peloponnese can be traced back to the 6th century A.D.
The Collection was inaugurated by the Minister of Culture, Mrs. Elisavet Papazoi
in July 1999. Monemvasia's opportune site
on the naval routes, its fleet which ruled over the important ports in the Mediterranean
and the Black Sea, its famous products ("Malvasia" wine, for instance), members of
its society distinguished in commerce, in "exercises of art" and in other spiritual activities,
its local Archiepiscopacy, which raised significant personalities, but also the favor which
has been given to the area through imperial chrysoboules, all made up the town's fame and prestige.
Within the area of the
Castle of Monemvasia,
which is itself a museum, the remaining monuments
public buildings, Ottoman hamams, cisterns), which had attracted the attention of the scientific research,
indicate Monemvasia's glorious past and highlight its historical route. However, information was missing
for many different aspects of the inhabitants' life.
The permanent exhibition was organized in order to present to the
public archaeological finds from both gathering and excavating into the Castle.
They include historical testimonies of human activity and artistic life which
developed here, from the early Christian years until the late centuries of Turkish
occupation, but they also suggest the commercial and cultural contacts of Monemvasia
with other parts of Greece or abroad.
The Archaeological Collection has been housed in a
with many structural phases: it was originally built as a Muslim mosque during
the Turkish occupation (16th century), was reformed into a public building during
the second Venetian occupation (1690-1713), and operated as a prison and coffee
shop after the Liberation. With the housing of the Archaeological Collection a
new phase in its history begins.
The main purpose of the exhibition is to promote elements for public
life, through a group of sculptures belonging to the surroundings, as well as for
private life, through a group with miniature works of art and pottery. The exhibition
has both educational and informational character and the exhibits are accompanied,
apart from their labels, by the appropriate bilingual explanatory texts. The route
suggested to the visitor begins from the north internal part of the building, with a
group of sculptures used in open spaces: the coats of arms, a western custom
introduced during the Frankish occupation (sculpture with the lion of Venice, plaque
with relief coat of arms, dated to 1525) and sculptures related with the vital, for the Castle,
matter of water and water supply (cistern's orifice, plaque from fountain etc.).
A different group consists of
from churches, the most important being those from Agia Sofia (12th century), which
cannot be re-laid to their original position because of alterations in certain parts of the
church (door-frame, part of an iconostasis etc.). Of importance here are also sculptures
that hold traces of second use and, consequently, give us evidence for the recycling
of marble, a material priceless and difficult to be found, as well as for local groups of
marble-sculptors, local quarries etc.
On the south internal wall, a
has been reconstructed and exhibited. It is dated to the end of the 11th century, and
comes from a mid-Byzantine church, the oldest in the area of the Castle.
The exhibition ends with the showcases of ceramics, domestic articles
and personal items, such as those of a smoker. That is, with a jump to the items involved
with private life and give information about it. These exhibits include:
a) Articles used on the table,
b) Articles relevant with water and
c) Articles relevant with fire.
The exhibition also serves as a welcoming area for the visitors in the Castle.
In the centre of the hall there is a map, on which the most important monuments are highlighted,
and several routes for the visitors are suggested.
The existing space may not be enough for a detailed exhibition, but visitors
can complete their understanding with the leaflet about the Castle and its monuments and
the catalogue of the exhibition. The open space in the
square of Christ Elkomenos
provides memories and knowledge for Monemvasia and functions as a means of information
for the historical course of the society which lived there.