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Spetses by night
Spetses by night
GR Spetses.PNG
Coordinates: 37°15′N 23°8′E / 37.25°N 23.133°E / 37.25; 23.133
Island chain: Saronic
Area: 27.121 km² (10 sq.mi.)
Highest mountain: Profites Elias (248 m (814 ft))
Greece Greece
Periphery: Attica
Prefecture: Piraeus
Capital: Spetses (town)
Population: 3,916 (as of 2001)
Density: 144 /km² (374 /sq.mi.)
Postal code: 180 50
Area code: 22980
License code: Z

Spetses (Modern Greek: Σπέτσες, Ancient/Katharevousa: Σπέτσαι, Spetsai) is an island of Greece, sometimes included as one of the Saronic Islands. Until 1948, it was part of the old prefecture of Argolidocorinthia, which is now split into Argolis and Corinthia. In ancient times, it was known as Pityoussa, and later as Petses. The town of Spetses (pop. 3,846 in 2001) is the only large settlement on the island, and was one of only two provinces in Greece with fewer than five settlements and two municipalities. The island is presently an independent municipality (pop. 3,916), with no local boundaries within the municipality. The other settlements on the island are Moní Agíon Pánton (pop. 32), Ligonéri (16), Ágioi Anárgyroi (11), Kouzoúnos (3). Also part of the Municipality of Spetses are the islands of Spetsopoula (pop. 11) and Velopoula (uninhabited).

Ferries and high-speed hydrofoils arrive regularly from Piraeus and Tyros and Leonidio and Nafplion on the Peloponnese. The use of motor vehicles is severely restricted on the island, so the public transportation system is generally provided by horse & carriage and water taxis. Some conventional taxis and buses are in operation, but they require a special license. The inhabited area is so compact that most people use scooters, bicycles or walk throughout the island. The port is also known as Dapia. Trails encircle the island and total about 25 to 30 km; famous beaches include Agios Mamas, in the centre of town, Agioi Anargiroi and Agia Paraskevi at the back of the island, Zogeria and two beaches close to the town, College beach and Agia Marina, both offering watersports.



Engraving of Laskarina Bouboulina

Archaeological findings in Spetses date back to 2000 BC. However, Pityoussa in antiquity was an island of no importance.

From 1821 to 1832, the island played an important role in the Greek War of Independence in fighting against the Turks, and was the home of celebrated war heroine Bouboulina. The modern Hydra class frigate F 453 Spetsai , the World War 2 era destroyer Greek destroyer Spetsai (D 98) and the historic Greek battleship Spetsai have been named after this island.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the island attracted a number wealthy Greek vacationers from Athens and elsewhere, owning villas or living on large yachts in the port. Some had children who became students of the Anargirios School. Although some hotels were present, tourists often stayed in purpose-built holiday homes. From the 1980s, these were often supplanted by north European tourists, especially from Britain, who were attracted by the low cost of a holiday.

Spetses: The island of Spetses, located in the Mediteranian Sea, was first occupied during the Mesolithic Age, about in 8000 BC. During that period the island was connected to through an isthmus to the island of Argolida , currently named Costa. Pieces of flint fro that time were found near the part of the island called Zogeria that contained a water source probably available since those times. Other archaeological finds were located in the area of Saint Marina, which contained the first Hellenistic settlement to be found on the island and dates to the 3rd millennium BC. At least three natural harbors of Spetses (Saint Marina, Saint Paraskevi and Zogeria) served as a refuge for ships carrying goods to and from the Argolis Gulf during the peak of the State of Lerna (about 2300 BC). After the collapse of the State of Lerna, Spetses experienced a period of decline. Findings in the areas of Saint Marina and Saint Anargyroi show the existing settlements belonging the late Mycenaean period (12th to 13th century BC). At the time of the Peloponnesian War stone observatories were built at the sites of Prophet Elias and Zogeria. Mentions to the island of Spetses were made by both Strabo in the 1st century BC and by Pausanias in the 2nd century AD referring to the island as Pitiousa. The raid by the Goths in the Eastern Roman empire caused a wave of refugees to flee to Spetses, resulting in the re-settlement of the island, focusing on the Old Port, making it one of the three largest cities of Argolis (including Argos and Hermione). During the 18th century, during the conquest of the Peloponnese from the Turks and the Venetian expulsion, many Christian Albanians took refuge in Spetses in order to escape the Turkish persecution. These refugees created the old village of Spetses, in the area of Kastelli, which is fortified by a wall that reinforces the natural protection provided by the terrain. Over the years the island developed a significant naval power. The Greek Coalition in cooperation with the Russians in the Russian-Turkish war in 1768–1774 turned the powerful merchant fleet of Spetses to a significant power against the Turks during the so-called Orlofika. In response to these events the Turks destroyed the only village on the island in 1770. For some years after the destruction of the island it remained deserted, but was re-occupied in 1774 by new settlers from the opposite coast of Peloponnese after the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca that allowed the Russian free movement of ships in the Mediterranean and the recreation of the powerful commercial fleet by using the Russian flag to establish trade routes with neighboring countries. After the re-occupation of Spetses the settlement began to expand beyond the Kastelli region and caused further growth in the maritime economic activities on the island. When in 1821 the Greek revolution broke out, Spetses was the first of the Greek islands that raised the flag of Revolution the morning of 3 April 1821. The fleet of Spetses, consisting of merchant ships belonging to the island had become a formidable tool for war and played a key role in the struggle, both by participating in raids against the Turkish coast and the exclusion of fortresses in the Peloponnese. Particularly important is the involvement of the Spetsian fleet in sieges of the fortresses of Nafplion and Monemvasia and naval battles of Samos (1824) and Kafireas (1825).

History of Spetsonian Armata: On 8 September 1822 the Turkish fleet, coming from Monemvasia, began supplying Palamidi in Nafplion, which was at the time besieged by land forces lead by Alexander Ypsilanti and sea forces lead by Laskarina Bouboulina. Arriving between Trikeri and Spetsopoula, the Turkish forces were confronted with the combined fleet of three heroic Greek islands of Spetses, Hydra and Psara. The admiral of the Greek fleet, Andreas Miaoulis, gave orders to move the Greek fleet to the interior of the Argolid Gulf, in order to capture the more numerous and better equipped Turkish fleet. In order to leave the island of Spetses defenseless at the mercy of Turks, Spetses Tsourpas J. Masters, D. Lampory (or Leonidas) and I. Koutsis and the Hydra A. Kriezis, ignored the signal and Miaoulis attacked against Turks. The brunt of the battle took place in Hydra, during which the warriors saw the smoke rising from the island and assumed that the island had burned. During this turmoil and mayhem the Spetsian city was demolished, the heroic Barmpatsis Cosmas (1792–1887), defied the danger to his own life, surpassed the guns, fire and smoke and ran through the enemy ships to the center of the Turkish formation, and succeded in burning down the Turkish flag ship. According to tradition the ship burned and sank in front of the port. The actions of Barmpatsi were decisive for the outcome of the battle, and the Turkish fleet retreated in defeat, resulting in the fall of Nafplio two and a half months later.

Each year the second weekend of September is dedicated to celebratory events aimed to commemorate the events of that battle of Sept. 8, 1822 combined with the celebrations of Panagia Armata (near Faro). The events end with the reproduction of the sinking of the Turkish flag ship in the Spetsian harbor. 
Spetses is one of nine European cities participating in the European Network of Historical Reconstructions. In each of the participating cities (Brussels, Belgium, Dublin and Cork in Ireland, Spain Bailen, Slafkof the Czech Republic, Tiouksmpery in Great Britain, and Hydra and Spetses in Greece) the reproductions are considered historic events.

In wider culture

Spetses was the basis for the island Phraxos in John Fowles 1965 major novel The Magus. Many locations, including the fictional Lord Byron School (actually the private Anargyrios & Korgialenios School of Spetses and the Villa Bourani (located on the south side of the island above a popular public beach). Both School and Villa still exist, although the house is under private ownership.

The Alki David mermaid film Fishtales starring Kelly Brook and Billy Zane was filmed set and filmed on the island.

Demographic evolution

Year Population Change Municipal/Island population Density
1981 3,729
1991 3,509 −220/-5.90% 3,603 132.8/km²
2001 3,846 +337/+9.60% 3,916 144.4/km²

Night life and Entertainment

As Spetses Island is an all around the year destination, it always preserves a vibrant atmosphere that enchants visitors. It provides excellent dining options in restaurants and traditional taverns, which serve unique local and Greek delicacies and concentrates a variety of clubs and atmospheric bars, satisfying all tastes and give off a sense of luxury and style. All entertainment venues and restaurants can be found not only in Spetses Town but also towards the Old Harbour, which wins the heart of all visitors.

Sights and Attractions

Spetses Island possess impressive historical and architectural treasures which makes it a favourite vacation spot among tourists. The square of Dapia at the port, which the old emplacement where historical personas of the 1821 used to gather is a must see, as well as the mansion which belongs to Bouboulina-one of the greatest figures of the 1821 Revolution-and is now a museum hosting valuable heirlooms. You may also visit the Spetses museum with findings of past eras and interesting exhibits from the National Revolution.

All around Spetses Town admire the traditional residences, stroll around the pebbled squares to see the bust`s of important figures,the impressive clock tower and whitewashed churches that are really worth a glimpse


See also


External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The island of Spetses (sometimes called Spetsai) (pop. 3,916) administratively belongs to the Prefecture of Attica, although its proximity to the Peloponnese mainland puts it geographically in Argolis. It is extremely popular with Athenians, who swarm the place during Easter and summer weekends. Due to the nature of available accommodation, package tourism has not caught on much. In the past Spetses has had a reputation as a quiet island, but more recently there have been complaints from both residents and return visitors that the noise level from cars and motorbikes has been reaching the level of cacaphony of other, more touristed islands.

Get in

By boat

The preferred method of travel from Athens to Spetses is by sea from the port of Piraeus. In high season several passenger-only hydrofoils and catamarans of Hellenic Seaways depart the port of Piraeus daily, calling at the the islands of Poros, Hydra and Spetses, as well as the mainland ports of Ermioni and Porto Heli on the Peloponnese. Depending on the ports of call, trip duration from Piraeus to Spetses is between 1 hour 45 minutes and 3 hours 15 minutes. Passenger tickets cost €35 one way.

Only the regular ferry carries motorcycles and bikes to Spetses. Private cars are not officially allowed on the island.

Winter sees a major reduction in service, with only four hydrofoils daily. These are subject to cancellations when the weather turns nasty.


Due to its proximity to the mainland, many choose to travel to Spetses overland, parking their cars (€4 per day) at Kosta on the Peloponnese and then crossing over either on one of the four daily landing-craft ferries (15 minutes, €0,85) or by sea-taxi (3 minutes, €15). Public Inter-City (KTEL) buses [1] connect with the ferry at Kosta, to/from Athens and Nafplion daily year-round.

Local transportation on Spetses Island
Local transportation on Spetses Island

With private cars officially banned from the island, local transportation is very expensive (although most attractions are within reasonable walking distance). In high season there are two buses connecting the town with the beaches of Aghioi Anargyroi and Aghia Paraskevi on one side and Ligoneri on the other side. Other land transportation includes four taxis and several horse-drawn buggies (high season only). Plenty of bikes and motorcycles are available for hire.

In summer tourist boats provide day trips to the beaches of Aghioi Anargyroi, Aghia Paraskevi and Zogeria. Water taxis are also available year-round, connecting Spetses Town with any beach on the island or the coast of the Peloponnese, just across the narrow straits, but these can be very expensive.

Low-season options are restricted to water-taxis and the four land-based taxis, with the horse-drawn buggies withdrawn from circulation and the buses assigned to transporting students to and from schools.


Several of Spetses innumerable cafes offer internet service for a fee, but exactly which ones seems to keep changing. Look for signs saying Internet, or ask at your hotel if they can direct you to one.

Courtyard of Hadjiyannis Mexis Museum
Courtyard of Hadjiyannis Mexis Museum

Spetses has two museums. The Hadjiyannis Mexis Museum is located to the southwest of the town--a five-minute walk from the harbour. Open daily except Monday 08:00-15:00 (admission €3) it is housed in the late-18th century mansion of Hadjiyannis Mexis, one of the local leaders during the 1821 War of Independence, and includes objects from throughout the 4,000-year history of the island.

The privately-owned Bouboulina Museum [2]is open daily in high season, with guided tour provided in Greek and English several times a day (admission €5). The museum is housed in the 17th century mansion of the 1821 War of Independence heroine, Laskarina Bouboulina and mainly exhibits artefacts from that period.

Other interesting attractions include the Mansion of Sotirios Anargyros, an early 20th Century neoclassical building, home of the local benefactor Sotirios Anargyros (1849-1929), just behind the waterfront cafeterias in Spetses Town.

To the north of town are the Poseidonion Hotel and the Daskalakis Electricity Factory. The Poseidonion was cosntructed in the early 20th Century and attracted the rich and famous of Athens in its heyday, but has fallen into disrepair as of late. Renovations began in 2006 to convert it back into a luxury hotel. The Daskalakis factory, which used to provide the island with electricity and ice, has been converted into a luxury hotel.

Turkish Flagship ablaze during re-enactment of 1822 Naval Battle
Turkish Flagship ablaze during re-enactment of 1822 Naval Battle
Turkish Flagship explodes in fireworks during re-enactment of 1822 Naval Battle
Turkish Flagship explodes in fireworks during re-enactment of 1822 Naval Battle

The celebrations of the Panaghia Armata are the highlight of the summer season on Spetses, attracting as many as 40,000 visitors, and culminating in the re-enectment of an 1822 naval battle between the Greek forces and the Turkish Armada. The show includes an attack on the Turkish flagship with a Greek fire-boat, which sets off a fascinating show of fireworks in the harbour of Spetses Town. The week-long celebrations culminate on the second weekend of September each year, and also include concerts and other cultural events. A special mass is held in the church of Panaghia Armata in the Old Harbour, as well as at Aghios Nikolaos, the metropolis of the island.

Easter is also a very popular time for visiting the island. Holy Week traditions are lovingly passed on from generation to generation, with the highlights being the Good Friday mass, where funeral processions from all parishes converge on Spetses Town for a final open-air mass, and the Saturday midnight celebrations of the Resurrection with fireworks (before everyone returns home for the traditional feast that marks end of a 40-day fast).

Accommodation during the Easter and Armata weekends can be impossible to find, unless booked well in advance.

Mansions on the road to the Old Harbour
Mansions on the road to the Old Harbour
Lighthouse on the Old Harbour headland
Lighthouse on the Old Harbour headland

A walk to the Old Harbor is considered a must for visitors to the island. The coastal road is closed to vehicles in the evenings during summer season, making it a pleasant outing all the way from Spetses Town, past some of the most spectacular mansions, and on to the marina with all the luxury yachts and cruisers of the wealthier holidaying Athenians, all the way to the little churche of the Panaghia Armata and the Lighhouse--one of the first to be built in Greece, in 1837, and still in use. At a leisurely pace the walk from the new Dapia harbor at the town center to the Old Harbor shouldn't take more half an hour each way. Cafes, bars and restaurants abound in the Old Harbor.

Sea entrance to the Bekiris Cave
Sea entrance to the Bekiris Cave

The island's most popular beaches are Aghioi Anargyroi and Aghia Paraskevi, on the west side of the island. A bus and tourist boats run daily from Spetses Town during the summer season. An acceptable, if somewhat touristy, self-service restaurant operates in-season at Aghioi Anargyroi. The Bekiris Cave at Aghioi Anargyroi, complete with its own sandy beach, is a must-see. Access is overland from the northern edge of the Aghioi Anargyroi beach, or else you can swim inside through a very low opening. The cave served as a hideout for women and children during Turkish attacks on the island.

The very picturesque Zogeria Beach, on the north edge of the island, is also served by tourist boats from the island and boasts a restaurant, serving its specialty of chicken in tomato sauce with spaghetti or chips.

Other beaches on the island, such as Xylokeriza, Ligoneri and Vrellos are only accessible by private transport (motorbikes or bicycles) or with very expensive sea taxis.

The town beach at Aghios Mamas is rather dirty and crowded, but could suffice in a pinch. It's better to continue south to the tiny beach beneath Aghios Nikolaos, or even further to Aghia Marina.

There are also series of beaches beginning past the Spetses Hotel about a twenty minute walk along the main island road west of the main Dapia harbor, of which the most pleasant is Kaiki Beach (so called from the beached hulk marking it) across from Anargyrios College (hence also called College Beach.) This beach is typically developed: a bar, a (rather basic) rest room, a little changing shack, and sun beds under Polynesian style umbrellas for rent. Right next to it is a public beach with fewer facilities, but the water isn't there isn't as good for swimming and that part of the beach tends to be littered. The water at all the beaches on this northern stretch of the island can be too rough for pleasant swimming when the wind is up.

Other interesting sights to visit:

  • The fortified former monastery of Aghios Nikolaos, now the Metropolis of Spetses. This was where the Spetsiots declared the War of Independence, on Palm Sunday (2 April) 1821.
  • The Anargyrios School, built on the principles of a British Boarding School in the mid 20th century.
  • The Chancellary is the first building one comes upon on disembarking at Spetses Town port. It was the meeting place of town elders before the War of Independence. In the first year of Independence it functioned as the Town Hall. The ground floor is now a shop and cafe.
  • The Aghioi Pantes nunnery, a half-hour walk from Spetses Town, commading spectacular views over the beach of Aghia Marina and the neighbouring privately-owned island of Spetsopoula. On a clear day the views stretch out to the island of Hydra and the Mountain of Parnon on the Peleponnese.
  • The tiny church Prophet Elia on the mountaintop of Spetses. It's a steep climb from Spetses Town, but the view from the top is fascinating. The dirt road continues down the other side of the island to the beach of Aghioi Anargyroi.


The local specialty of Spetses (as also of many other Greek islands) are Amygdalota, little almond cakes, sprinkled with icing sugar. The most popular are available at the well-established pastry shops of Klimis and Politis.


Restaurants abound in Spetses, especially in the high season, ranging from local fast-food outlets to posh, haute-cuisine affairs. Several remain open even in winter, when food is often served around the fireplace.

  • Patralis, Kounoupitsa (on the water a ten minute walk west of the main Dapia harbor, near the Hotel Spetses), (30) 22980 74441. lunch and dinner. Patralis lives up to its reputation as one of the best fish tavernas in Greece. Can be crowded in the evenings and weekends.  edit
  • Lazaros, Kastelli (a few hundred meters inland from the main Dapia harbor, inquire locally), + (30) 22980 72600 Mobile: 6974 663302. A very old fashioned simple, and traditional taverna with good barrel wine. Specialty is goat fricasee.  edit
  • Balcony Wine Bar, Spetses Town, (just east of the main Dapia harbor on the sea road, though the entrance is from the parallel shopping lane one street inland). serves light meals and a limited selection of really excellent Greek wines at prices that are rather high for Greece but would be a bargain in London or California. If in doubt, try one of their Santorini white wines. Pleasant balcony overlooking the water.  edit


Many of the popular bars of Spetses are located around the Old Harbour, which is the place to see and be seen for most Athenians holidaying in Spetses. There are also several popular cafes and ouzeris clustered around the main Dapia harbor, and several more scattered along the coastal road leading northwest from town.


Almost all accommodation is in Spetses Town, generally in one of three areas. There are several large hotels and also rent-room places right in or near the main Dapia harbor, which is convenient but can be noisy. There are some studios a twenty minute or so walk away to the east, around the Old Harbor, more atmospheric but a little out of the way. About an equal distance from Dapia the other direction are a number of hotels and studios, most notable of which is the Hotel Spetses: this area is not particularly atmospheric away from the shore, but it is relatively quiet, and is located conveniently to Kaiki Beach and to the Patralis restaurant and to a number of other pleasant restaurants and cafes.

Plenty of hotels cater to visitors on the island, but rooms tend to be tiny, prices high and service mediocre. Advance reservations are highly recommended during summer months weekends, as well as during Holy Week at Easter. Rooms to let are also available, with owners sometimes meeting arriving boats.

In general, there

  • Economou Mansion, (a ten minutes walk from the town center), +30-22980-73 400 (, fax: +30-22980-74074), [3]. Top class accommodations in a restored traditional mansion.  edit
  • Orloff Resort, (+30) 22980 75444-5, [4]. Luxury hotel with pool at the Old Port. Rooms, studios, and a house.  edit
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Alternative forms



Proper noun

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  1. An island in the Argosaronic
  2. A village in Greece located on an homonymous island.



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