Spetses History

Archaeological findings indicate that Spetses has been inhabited since the Early Bronze Age (also called the First Hellenic Era -around 2500 BC). Evidence also shows that during the Mycenaean Period (c.1750 BC - c.1050 BC) the island was called Pityousa, which means "covered in pine trees. Then, the Venetians, who ruled from 1200 to 1460, named it Isola de Spezie (the island of fragrances/herbs).

During the 15th century, the population increased, with people coming from the coast of the Peloponnese; unfortunately, they could not form settlements because of the frequent pirate attacks.

The construction of the first settlements did not take place until the 17th century. The very first Medieval settlement was Kastelli, built on the northwest side of the island and surrounded by thick walls. Once people settled in Spetses, it began to develop great marine power and tradition, which remain the trademark of Spetses to this day.

Participation in the Greek Revolution

The 18th century was the beginning of a golden era for Spetses that focused on shipbuilding and the empowerment of its fleet. The impressive merchant fleet of Spetses was converted into warships that played a major role during the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman yoke. This is apparent through the old boatyards, which you can admire at the Old Harbor.
Spetses had an equal contribution during the Peloponnesian War, in 1769, by taking part in the Orlov's revolt, with numerous fully-equipped warships. To punish the Spetsiots for that action, the Ottomans organized a punitive expedition and completely destroyed the fortified town of Kastelli. That didn't stop the Spetsiots from helping the revolutionary Lambros Katsionis in 1790 and then suffering the punishment of the Ottomans.
The patriotism and courage of the Spetsiots were upbeat, which is why they were the first to respond to the revolutionary call in 1821.

Spetses, as one of the three important naval centers of the country (along with Hydra and Psara), dedicated its powerful fleet and soul to the fight against the Ottoman Empire. The Spetsiot ships participated in the liberation of Nafplion, Monemvasia, Mani, and Messolongi as well as in the siege and conquest of Tripolitsa, and went to Crete to fight the Egyptian fleet, which was allied with the Turks. 
These powerful ships were also used to transport weapons, munitions, and supplies to other islands that joined the Revolution and were the main cause of the success during the decisive battle against the Ottoman fleet in the Argolic Gulf.
This historical event is still commemorated today in Spetses, where a reconstitution of the battle is organized in the main harbor of the town on the second weekend of September on the occasion of the Miaoulia Festival.

Laskarina Bouboulina

One of the most famous heroes of the Greek Revolution was female captain Laskarina Bouboulina, an important figure in the history of Spetses, who took command of her husband's fleet when he died and became an active member of the Filiki Eteria, a secret revolutionary organization arranging the revolt. She fought in many important battles and spent most of her fortune to finance the war.
Other ship owners and wealthy merchants from Spetses offered financial aid to empower the revolution. Some of the most remembered are Hatzigiannis-Mexis, Kosmas Barbatsis, Captain Tsoupas, Captain Panou, Captain Koutsis, and Captain Lambrou.

Recent years

Spetses maintained its prosperity and power for several years after the Greek Revolution but started to decline at the beginning of the 20th century when Piraeus became the center of merchant development, activity, and trading. The two World Wars brought great poverty and misery to the island and forced a part of the population to move abroad. Spetses recovered from its decline by quickly developing again thanks to the growth of tourism which started in the early 1900s.

This was the moment when the island gained the role of a popular resort for the middle classes, attracted by the education and wealth of the prominent families. The classy and cosmopolitan image of Spetses was increased by Sotiris Anargyros, a repatriated Spetsiot who became very rich in America, and used part of his money to build a road and a reservoir, the first luxurious hotel on the island (Poseidonion Hotel), and a prestigious private boarding school (the Anargyrios and Korgialeneios School) and financed the reforestation and conservation program of the dense pine forest of Spetses.

Today, tourism is the locals' main source of income.