Circa AD 1200, all around the Castle of Monemvasia as well as beyond it, there were vineyards to which the town owed its prosperity as well as the desire of all invaders to conquer it. The sweet red wine Malvazia, famous in the entire Mediterranean, was the product of these vineyards. When the Turks conquered the Peloponnese, after the fall of Byzantium, the people of Monemvasia chose to surrender the town to the Venetians, who secretly carried the vineyards to Crete and then to Italy and Malta. The Turks destroyed all wine cultivations and Malvazia disappeared from the region. The land around the castle remained wild, as no one had the courage to cultivate it systematically again. In the 18th century, there were only few buildings outside the castle, and among them Lazareto, which served occasionally as a prison and as a purgatory. It was a large building with wide stone walls and small wooden windows, according to the typical architectural style of the region, and was literally built on the rock.
This building, isolated from the community of the castle, just a stone’s throw away from the walls, was restored with absolute respect to the original architectural characteristics. In many parts of the interior one can see the ancient rock on which the walls of this hotel have been arranged. The Lazareto hotel proves the belief that first impressions can be misleading. Behind the stone walls of this conservable building, hides a modern hotel, affording a view over the new city of Monemvasia and the mountains of Laconia.
Its green gardens come in direct contrast with the arid and rocky landscape of the Castle. The surrounding area is arranged in levels and breakfast is served under the pine trees. The interior is furnished in line with the character of the building. The hotel restaurant, called “Castellano”, only uses local fresh vegetables, fish and meat, all of which are bought from the local market.
And one detail: The owners of the Lazareto hotel attended personally to the replanting of vineyards in the area surrounding Lazareto, thus reviving the ancient tradition of the good wine produced in Monemvasia.