Spetses

NOW 25 °C

Next 5 days

  • SUN 30 °C
  • MON 30 °C
  • TUES 32 °C
  • WED 34 °C
  • THURS 39 °C

Source: National Observatory of Athens /meteo.gr

The island of the aromas

Known as Isola di Spezie under Venetian rule and Pityoussa (pine-clad) in ancient times, Spetses, at just 54 nautical miles from Athens, is a picturesque, car-free island with a unique architecture, naval history and culture. The island flourished during the early 18th century, developing into a significant naval power, dominating the major shipping routes of the Mediterranean. Today, the two-hundred year old captains’ mansions lining the coast are testimony to the vast wealth and grandeur of that time. The mansion of the Greek War of Independence heroine Laskarina Bouboulina – the only female admiral in world naval history - now houses Bouboulina’s Museum which hosts a Cultural Festival every summer with a plethora of events - while the Spetses State Museum is housed in the mansion of Spetsiot revolutionary leader Hatziyannis Mexis and contains artefacts representing more than 4000 years of history.

With its rich history and culture, museums, beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, cosmopolitan nightlife, Spetses is the perfect location for a short-break or long vacation throughout the year. Visit Spetses during September, when “Armata”, a truly impressive re-enactment of a naval battle, takes place ever since 1931. If you are a sports lover, you definitely don't want to miss the unique athletic events organised every year in April "Spetsathlon" (the biggest triathlon in Greece) and October "Spetses Mini Marathon", where thousands of participants take part and enjoy running and swimming races for the young at heart!
When Greece rebelled against the rule of the Ottoman Empire in 1821, Spetses was the first Greek island to hoist the revolutionary flag and the unparalleled heroism of the Spetsiot captains became known throughout Europe.

A walking tour of Spetses

Spetses is the perfect place to enjoy a wonderful walk as the distinctive architecture, cobble streets and fragrant gardens filled to the brim with jasmine and bougainvillaea make it a joy to discover the island on foot.

Start your walk in the main port of Dapia where the imposing and magnificent Poseidonion Grand Hotel. The hotel was first built in 1914 and was the brainchild of Sotirios Anargyros, in the style of the Negresco Hotel in Venice and the Carlton in Cannes. It was completely renovated in 2009, with special attention to the architectural fixtures of the building and has since won an impressive array of international awards. The locals refer to it as “our acropolis”.

A couple of minutes from the hotel is the house of Sotirios Anargyros built in 1904. The mansion is guarded by two Egyptian sphinxes – an exotic note rarely seen in a Greek island. A little way off from the Mansion of Anargyros is the Bouboulina Museum. Lascarina Bouboulina is one of the few female heroes of the Greek Revolution and notably one of the most renowned women in the history of Greece.The museum is housed in the home of Bouboulina, and displays a collection of personal objects and memorabilia. The building itself is noteworthy for its architectural details, especially the intricately carved wood ceiling in the main salon.

Another Museum a little further off from Dapia, is the Xatzigiannis- Mexis Museum, which is housed in the superb mansion of Hatzigiannis Mexis, one of the notables who played a leading part during the fight for Greek Independence. The first floor is the one open to the public and displays a collection of relics and objects depicting the island’s history and culture from the Classical period to the beginning of the 20th century. Sculptures, Roman coins, Byzantine icons, local costumes, embroideries, portraits, historical documents and weapons are amongst the permanent collection of the

After perusing the memorabilia of the Mexis collection, we suggest a stroll from Dapia to the Old Harbour (Palio Limani), via the coastal route. It is approximately 2 km, but well worth it. Along the way, marvel at the Captain’s mansions, perched high from the cobbled road and surrounded by beautiful gardens with intricate stone patterns (dolphins and anchors being the favourite designs). From the coastal road a short path leads to the Monastery of Saint Nicholas which was built approximately in the beginning of the 18th century. Tradition has it that during a storm wives and mothers of sailors would take oil from the monastery and pour it in the sea to calm the waters ensuring the safe return of their loved ones. When in 1821 the Greek revolution broke out, Spetses was the first of the Greek islands that raised the flag of the Revolution the morning of April 3rd 1821, in the patron saint church of St. Nicholas, located in the old harbour. Every year, the second weekend of September is dedicated to commemorating the events of the battle of Sept. 8, 1822, in which the Turkish flotilla was torched. The events culminate with a re-enactment of the burning of the Turkish flagship in the 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” .

Continuing along the coastal road, one reaches the traditional Spetses shipyards, which are the only ones in Greece that have been in operation constantly since the revolution until this day. The shipbuilding tradition of Spetses is unequalled in the Mediterranean with the craft being carried down from generation- at the moment only five remaining shipyards are in operation and it is a pleasure to watch the craftsmen at work. The wood is soaked in sea water for durability and all the materials used follow the traditional way of boat building.

After the shipyards, it is a short walk to the lighthouse on the tip of the Old Harbour (Palio Limani). The lighthouse is one of the oldest in Greece (it was built in 1837) and is still in operation. In the gardens around the lighthouse, sculptures of renowned artist Natalia Mela, decorate the tip of the island.

Finally, we also suggest a walk towards the other side of the island as well, in order to visit the famous Anargyreios & Korgialeneios School, also built by Sotirios Anargyros in 1927. It functioned as a boarding school until 1983, based on the famous British schools of Eton and Harrow and was the inspiration behind the John Fowles Novel “The Magus'' who was a professor at the school. Nowadays, the neoclassical building is still used for congresses and cultural/historical meetings. 

If walking is not your thing, you can take a romantic trip around the island in horse-drawn carriages and admire the grand mansions adorning the narrow cobbled streets of the island.

Made in Spetses

FILMING IN GREECE
© Getty Images/ Ideal Image

THE ISLAND OF LOVE (1963)

When their gangster- financed B- movie flops, two conmen flee to Greece to escape the mobster who's after them. Once there, they work up another scam to open a resort and one of them falls for the gangster's niece.

DIRECTOR: MORTON DA COSTA
FILMING LOCATION: HYDRA, SPETSES, ATHENS

IMDb

THE MAGUS (1968)

An English teacher arrives on a Greek island to take up a vacant teaching post. The last man to hold the post committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. Slowly but surely, he becomes involved in bizarre mind- games with the island's magician and a beautiful young woman.

DIRECTOR: GUY GREEN
FILMING LOCATION: SPETSES

IMDb

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FESTIVAL

Armata 2022

SPETSES
BY SEA
Spetses is connected to Piraeus. The conventional ferries make the route "Piraeus - Spetses" in about 2 hours, and from Porto Heli boats leave daily for Spetses and the journey is 10 minutes.
BY CAR
Travel by car to Kosta in Peloponnese and to get a boat from there to Spetses (the boat trip lasts only 15 minutes).
BY COACH
Travel by coach with Argolida Prefecture Bus Company-KTEL to Kosta in Peloponnese and to get a boat from there to Spetses (the boat trip lasts only 15 minutes).

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Ferry routes

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