The town of Molaoi is the seat of Monemvasia Municipality, built on an altitude of 200 metres. It is 75 kilometres away from Sparta and has 3,100 residents. The town is built amphitheatrically on the fringes of a small valley bearing the town's name, and is an excellent sample of traditional local architecture.
Molaoi has a long history. The town is first mentioned in the Treaty of Sapienza, signed between the Franks and the Venetians in 1209. Another mention of the town is in 1445, in an official decree of the Byzantine Emperor Theodore II Palaiologos.
The town was founded in the 12th to 13th century, during the Byzantine rule. Its name has a Roman source, though, coming from the word "mola" which means mill; according to investigations, the town was the site of the first building of mills during the Roman era.
The town of Molaoi survived two great catastrophes that lead to its abandonment, one during the Orlov Revolt by the Turkish Albanians in 1770, and in 1825 by the Turks of Ibrahim. Later, after its abandonment, migrants from Monemvasia, Crete and Mani moved to the town, repopulating it. It now has the local Public Library as its administration centre and also features a hospital.
Around the town of Molaoi are many sights, such as the Byzantine chapel of Agios Georgios, built in the 13th century, with its impressive murals; a vaulted fountain in place of an older spring; the Byzantine church Panagia of Kokolaki, also of the 13th century, with obvious signs of the traditional architecture of the churches of Mystras in its design.
Ruins of towers can be found in the Peramaria point, and the chapel of Agia Paraskevi, the patron saint of Molaoi, the third church in the same spot. In the Pentagiousa point (meaning, five saints), 3 kilometres northeast of Molaoi, are ruins of Christian churches of the 6th century; the ancient settlement of Lefki was also in that point. There, can also be found the ruins of an ancient pipe of water transportation.
In the Gkagkania location, many findings have been unearthed, dating from the Neolithic era, up to the Byzantine, like old mines and a monastery. Nearby is also the canyon of Larkana and twelve water mills.
The people of Molaoi are mainly engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and trading.