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Spetses island

A legendary island full of bravery and aromas

Only 54 nautical miles from Athens, Spetses is a car-free, picturesque historic island within the Saronic Gulf.

The island’s beauty blends the blue colours of the sea with the green freshness of the pine forest, along with the small boats, the horse carriages, the landscape, the churches and the beautiful pebbled courtyards.

The island was called Pityousa, meaning full of pine trees, in ancient times and Isola di Spezie, meaning the island of spices, by the Franks.

Spetses was inhabited approximately since 2300 BC and was ruled by Venetians between 1200 and 1460 before being seized by the Turks in 1715.

The residents of Spetses were involved in maritime trading traveling worldwide and accumulated significant wealth during the 18th century. The Old Harbour of the island was transformed into a large shipbuilding area, where ships were built using wood from the island’s abundant forests.

Spetses played an integral role in the Greek War of Independence of 1821, was the home of celebrated war heroine Laskarina Bouboulina, naval commander, the first woman-admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy, and was the first of the Greek islands to raise the flag of Revolution in the morning of April 3rd 1821 in the church of the patron saint, St. Nicholas, located in the Old Harbour. Even today most traditional fishing boats and sea-taxis hoist the blue and red flag of the revolution. The blue signifies freedom and the red signifies blood, along with the words “Freedom or Death”. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, Spetses fell into decline. Nevertheless, Sotirios Anargyros, a visionary benefactor from Spetses, breathed new life to this land.

Sotirios Anargyros financed several large and pioneering projects including the first reservoir of Spetses, the luxurious Poseidonion Hotel, the replanting of the great pine forest of Spetses covering half the surface of the island, and the Anargyrios and Korgialenios School of Spetses – AKSS that he envisaged to constitute an educational institution that would educate the leaders for the nascent Greek society.

Spetses rapidly became a favourite destination for high society, royalty and the wealthy Athenians. The Poseidonion Grand Hotel has been a landmark on the Spetses skyline for nearly a century with its exceptional architecture echoing hotels of Côte d’Azur style.

Nowadays, the island is still considered as a cosmopolitan island where a number of events, such as Spetses Classic Yacht Regatta in June, the Spetses Mini Marathon, are hosted.

Every island has its own story but this island is the quintessence of battle, persistence and vision.

Not to be missed in Spetses:

  • A horse-drawn carriage ride along the promenade
  • A walk from the main port of Dapia to the lighthouse of Palio Limani (Old Port), passing the Captains’ Mansions lining the seasfront and the intricate stone pavements
  • A visit to traditional Spetses Shipyards
  • A guided tour to the Hatzigiannis Mexis Mansion (Spetses Museum) and the Bouboulina Museum
If you happen to be here in September, don’t miss the Armata festival, commemorating the events of the Battle of Spetses.

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