The Theophano Art Hotel enjoys a very privileged position within the traditional settlement. It is situated on Chrysafitissa Square, the largest open space within the Castle, which extends all the way to the fortification walls and overlooks the Myrtoo Sea. It is also a short distance from the historic Portello, the Castle’s only opening with access to the sea, for swimming. The journey to and from the central gate is relatively easy, with moderate uphill or downhill stretches.
It is housed in a complex of four stone buildings, built in 2012. The surviving traces of the original structures, in themselves very interesting and abundant in architectural features, were restored with great care, consideration, and environmental consciousness, to create a harmonious union of impeccable aesthetics, comfort, and tradition. The existing stone structures were lined with insulating materials and Byzantine mortar, to ensure a pleasant indoor temperature throughout the seasons. The existing archaeological features were left untouched and can be seen throughout the hotel. The cisterns (traditional water tanks) found on the grounds have been repaired and put to use. The ornate floors are all handmade.
The central building forms the hotel’s façade and is located directly on the square. It houses the reception, the lounge, the breakfast room and a number of other common areas, with entrances from both the square and the adjacent cobbled alleyway. Behind it and on the sides are the remaining three buildings, with a central atrium. Cobbled streets on either side of the complex lead into the square. Only a few steps will take you from one building to the others, via the alleyways, the square or some short stairs. The terrace is on the roof of the building behind the central unit, and is accessible to all guests via the adjacent alleyway.
Why “Art Hotel”?
Inspired by the historic settlement of the Castle and our deep love for it, we dreamt of a hotel that would convey to our guests the magic of staying in this unique inhabited Byzantine archaeological site. In the quiet, far away from cars and disturbances, guests become immersed in the romantic atmosphere of centuries past. Guided by this vision, we restored the buildings with our focus on preserving their original features. To decorate all spaces within the hotel, we used our family collection of artworks and antique furniture, lovingly hand-picked during our travels in Greece and abroad over the last twenty years. The collection ties in wonderfully with the buildings and unfolds across all of the hotel’s spaces. The hotel is ideal for couples, newlyweds, and those who seek a unique hospitality experience, different from what is offered by conventional hotels.
At the Thephano Art Hotel, hospitality is not limited to guest rooms, but extends to spacious common areas. The breakfast room is organised around a stunning centrepiece monastery table, and its windows offer unobstructed views of the sea. The adjacent lounge opens up into a traditional atrium, where there are tables for guests to take their breakfast outdoors, or simply relax at any time during the day. The hotel also offers two beautifully decorated, spacious rooms with vaulted alcoves, which have often been used to host art exhibitions. On the roof of one of the buildings is a large terrace, where guests may enjoy panoramic views of the sea, the settlement of the Castle and enchanting sunsets. All these spaces can accommodate a wide range of events, both organised and impromptu!
No two rooms are the same at the Theophano Art Hotel, making every stay a whole new experience for our guests, no matter how many times they return. The rooms have been shaped according to the original footprints of the centuries-old buildings. Each one has been designed with the desire to take advantage of its orientation and to highlight its singularity through architectural details, existing and new, size, furnishings and decoration.
We serve a simple breakfast, based on traditional Greek cuisine, which is prepared on site. Depending on occupancy levels, we offer either a self-service breakfast buffet, or table service in the dining room and the atrium. Breakfast is served between 9:00 and 10:30 am. Our aim is to provide a homemade breakfast that complements the inherent warmth of the Theophano Art Hotel.
The unique site of the castle
The hotel is situated on Chrysafitissa Square, the largest open space within the Castle. Taking a stroll through the square brings visitors into direct contact with the sea, the historic Castle walls, and panoramic views of the settlement. The square owes its existence to a town planning scheme implemented under the rule of Otto, King of Greece. This is also the reason why all the buildings located on the square feature neoclassical balconies on their façades.
The restoration of the square was designed by the architect and co-owner of the hotel, Elena Zabeli, and delivered to the public in 2016. The paving was done with local traditional materials and is shaped into long pebble gutters which direct rainwater out through holes in the fortification walls. It is decorated with marble slabs engraved with verses from Yiannis Ritsos’ poetry collection Monovasia, steel statues inspired by Byzantine calligraphy, and large cannonballs for sitting or playing.
Due to its position, the hotel is ideal for hosting events of both a personal and social nature, in its indoors and outdoors spaces.
The settlement of the castle
The Castle of Monemvasia is a traditional settlement enclosed by fortification walls, which has been inhabited since the early Byzantine years. It is situated in the hollow of a rock which stands alone in the sea and connects to the mainland via a bridge. It is to this that Monemvasia owes its name: moni and emvasi, meaning single entrance. Having preserved its medieval layout and its distinct architectural tradition, it is no wonder that the settlement is a true journey back in time for its visitors.
Visitors to Monemvasia may use the Castle as their base for numerous interesting excursions, and spend several days enjoying a range of different experiences. Starting from the Castle itself, it is certainly worth taking the time to visit the 40 churches, the Museum, the Ano Poli (Upper Old Town) with the church of Hagia Sophia, and the Lighthouse, which is just beyond the eastern walls, and to have a swim at the historic Portello. Short drives will bring you to quaint nearby villages, distinctive landscapes, caves and beautiful beaches, as well as hikes along wonderful trails through the Laconian nature. From Kyparissi to Cape Maleas and from Neapoli to Plytras, visitors may combine culture with activities in nature, and the local gastronomy. The little harbour of Gerakas and the golden beaches of Elafonissos are also “must-see” destinations. And we are always here to advise you in person, and give you ideas and tips for your excursions!