The History of the island

According to archaeological findings Spetses was first inhabited during the first Hellenic Era, about 2300 bc. Due to its geographic location and to the numerous wells, the island was used as a provision station for ships on their way to the Peloponesian coasts. Next to the findings from the First-Helennic age lie those from Mycenaenian times and those of the Byzantine age.

After the Francs occupation, Spetses fell under Venetian control (1200-1460). From 1460 to 1821, followed 400 years of Turkish occupation. Since the 17th century, the population increased with the coming og people from the Peloponnesian regions of Lakonia, Kynouria, Argolida and Ermioni.

The first medieval living quarters of Spetses were built on the Norteast side of the island at the place called "kastelli", which means "The island castle". Walls surrounded the settlement and its acropolis was on the hill, where the church of St. Basil is today.

The golden era of the island started in the 18th century and continued untill the War of Independence. During that period the navy became important and a strong fleet was built which was kept as such untill 1854.

During the revolution of 1821, the island reached its economic peak and remained there for several years. At the dawn of the 20th century, Spetses' economy became depressed and the two World Wars brought poverty to the island, thus obliging many inhabitants to abandon it.

Spetses is today among the favourite islands of Greek and foreign tourists. It's location (2 hours by road or by sea from Athens), the frequent connections with Pireus and the proximity of the Peloponnese (1,3 miles) make it easily accessible.

Keeping its cosmopolitan style, Spetses recieves hundreds of thousands of visitors every year from all over the world.

The re-enactment of the torching of the Turkish armada's flagship during the navalĀ  battle of Spetses (1822), held every yer in the first fortnight of September attracts thousands of visitors and concludes the summer activities on the island.

The contribution of Spetses to the war of independence in 1821

Spetses is a very small island nationally honored for its important contribution to the War of Independence in 1821 and to the liberation of Grrece from turkish occupation. Starting in 1769, Spetses contributed to the revolution of the Peloponnese, better known as the "Orloff Revolt", and suffered its complete destruction when the turks destroyed the town.

The Spetsiots showed their patriotism once again by helping Lambros Katsionis in 1790 which led, of course, to turkish persecution.

When the War of Independence broke out in 1821, Spetses was the first of the three navally significant islands (Hydra, Spetses and Psara) to respond to the call for help.

The three islands hoisted their own revolutionary flags aboard their ships from the beginning of the revolution. On April 3rd, 1821, after the church service at St. Nicolas, the Spetsiots took over the Chancellery in the name of the Revolution and installed a local administration immediately, informing Hydra and Psara of their acts, as well as all the other regions they were in contact with.

From the very beginning of the revolution, the Spetsiot navy, under the command of G.Panou and Laskarina Bouboulina, succeeded in cutting of two Peloponnesioan fortresses, Nafplion and Monemvasia. Since it was not possible to take these two fortresses by land, the only way to make these fortesses surrender was a naval siege, cutting their defenses off from turkish supply ships.

Following Spetses, the island of Hydra and Psara joined the revolution. Meanwhile, the Spetsiot navy destroyed many turkish ships in the Aegean Sea and furthered the cause of Independence by blocking off turkish-held ports and transporting arms and ammunition.

In July 1821 Spetsiot ships fought the tourkish fleet out of Samos, managing to bum part of it and, soon after that, held them off at Kitria bay in Mani.

On July 23rd Monemvasia fell to the Spetsiot ships and men after the four month siege. In the siege of Nafpion the Spetsiots showed their bravery fighting both at sea, under Bouboulina and on land, under the other captains.

The spetsiots also played an important role during the siege of Tripolis, and on the day of the fall of the town on September 23rd 1821, they were the first to reach the city walls. In July 1822 the Spetsiot navy was sent to Souda, Crete, to fight part of the Egyptian nnavy, which was alliedĀ  to the turks.

Later that year they fought against Dramalis on land and the turkish fleet off their own shores, while at the same time helping the besieged Greeks at Messolonghi.

After the destruction of the Dramalis' army by Kolokotronis and his men at Dervenakia, the fight against the turks in the Peloponnese took its normal way. Very few fortresses were able to resist the Greeks, one of which was Palamidi at Nafplion. This fortress was being desieged both by Dimitris Ipsilandis on land and Laskarina Bouboulina by sea. The turkish fleet, in a desperate move to rpvide Nafplion with food and ammunition, sailed towards the Argolic Gulf. The idea was to attack Spetses and then Hydra, on the way.

Hatzigianni Mexis and his sons took over the defence of the island, together with more Spetsiots. They set up three cannon batteries on the island. Hatzigianni Mexis sent the women and children to Hydra that was difficult to attack due to its rocky coasts. On September 8th, the enemy ships appeared in front of Spetses, between Trikeri and Spetsopoula. The wind was blowing northeast, helping the enemy fleet.

The Greek fleet under the command of Andreas Miaoulis moved towards the entrance of the Argolic Gulf, thus trying to attract the enemy to a spot where it would be easier to defeat him. Miaoulis even rose the signal flag so as to make the fleet follow him

At that moment Spetses remained unprotected. Therefore the spetsiot captains I.Tsoupas, D. Lamprou and I. Koutsis together with the Hydriot A. kriezis disobeyed orders and attacked the turks.

Shortly, the other Spetsiot captains joined them in their effort to push off the enemy.

The superiority of the turkish fleet in number, ship size and armaments was large. Despite unfavorable winds, more Greek ships follpwed and the battle lasted all afternoon.

The noise emanating from the 140 ships that took part in the battle was such that in Hydra people thought the group was moving. The air between Hydra and Spetses was full of so much smoke that the Hydriots thought the island of Spetses was on fire.

That was a crucial moment and although the poor visibility made it difficult to use the fireships, Pipinos, a Hydriot captain, managed to throw his successfully on an Algerian ship. Suddenly the Spetsiot captain Kosmas Barbatsis, fearlessly, holding a knife jumped onboard his fireship, dragging along his crew. In the midst of the pandemonium of the battle he made a dash for the turkish admiral's flagship.

The Turks remained amazed at his courage ans started retreating in front of his crazy act. The turkish flagship burned and sank-according to tradition- at the entrance to the port. A while later the turkish fleet left the Argolic gulf without supplying the fortress of Nafplion, which finally surrendered on November 30th, 1822.

In the following years the Spetsiots continued to fight for the freedom of their country until Kapodistrias came to power(1828).

They took part in the battles of Samos, Kos, Gerontas and helped the heavily besieged Messolonghi.