Places and persons

This is a brief guide to the landmarks and emblematic figures which have shaped Spetses into such a distinctive place.

Westward

Dapia Port. Landing place for arrivals from the mainland. Main meeting-place and observation post for visitors. Cafes, banks, newspapers, fruit vendors. Poseidonion hotel. Built in the grand Riviera style by Sotirios Anargyros, playground for wealthy Athenians in the ‘roaring 20’s’.

Old factory, now ‘Nissia’ hotel. Provided work to the womenfolk after World War I, when jobs were scarce for men. Its owner, Dimitrios Daskalakis, was elected deputy for Spetses under the Venizelos flag.

Kounoupitsa. Quiet fishermen’s neighborhood with beach, seaside restaurants and a great bakery.

Anargyros School. Originally a boarding school for boys, funded mainly by Sotirios Anargyros to emulate British public schools. Now houses the Spetses Lykeion (High School).

Eastward

Agios Mamas. Named after the chapel at the end of the bay. Town beach, cafes, restaurants.

Mansions row. Wealthy shipowners’ summer houses, retreats for ministers and diplomats from Athens.

Saint Nicholas monastery. Built like a fortress in the 1700’s for the patron saint of sailors.

Palio Limani (Old Harbour). «When our fleet was home, you could get across the harbour by stepping from deck to deck», according to tradition.

Shipyards. Here is where they built the two-masted brigs, up to 30m long, which brought wealth and power to Spetses in the late 18th century.

Lighthouse. Monuments, an art exhibition, the statue of Barbatsis and bust of Orloff facing the town.

Inland

Kasteli (‘castle’). Here is where the inhabitants of Spetses originally lived, 600m. uphill from the sea, for protection against pirate raids.

Museum. Must visit. Built around 1795 as the mansion of Hadji-Yiannis Mexis. Vases from 3000 BC, classic, byzantine and modern (1830 onwards) exhibits. Portraits of sea-captains, their weapons, household articles and the revolutionary flag.

Bouboulina Museum. Another «must visit». The guided tour takes you through Bouboulina’s life and Spetses during the Revolution. Notice the architectural similarity (Moorish-Venetian arcades) with the state Museum.

Figures of the Revolution

Hadji-Yiannis Mexis. Major shipowner and chief of the local self-government. His mansion is the state museum.

Laskarina Bouboulina. Major shipowner, outstanding patriot, leads her sailors and soldiers against the Turks.

Cosmas Barbatsis. Sailor. Hero of the ‘Armata’ naval battle in 1822. His fireship attacks the flagship of the Turkish admiral, who loses his nerve and retreats.

Anargyros Hadji-Anargyrou. Shipowner and historian. Describes the slap his father gave him when, as an 8 year-old, he hadn’t learnt a single patriotic song.

Alexei Orloff. Russian admiral. Sails through Gibraltar into the Mediterranean to open up the passage through the Black Sea. He encourages the Greeks to overthrow the Turks and withdraws his support once his objectives are met.

19th century figures

Eleni Altamura. First woman painter in Greece. Disguised as a man, attends the Naples art academy, marries her professor and returns to die in Spetses.

Sotirios Anargyros. Spetses’ benefactor. Returns from America a millionaire, builds the Poseidonion Hotel, the Anargyros School and buys up the hillsides to plant a forest.

Spahis and Koutsis. A pebble mosaic near Analipsi tells their story: about to be shot by Spahis the pirate, Koutsis the monk shows him the vanity of his ways; Spahis repents and puts down his gun.

20th century figures

Polybios Lekos. Mayor during Occupation. Travels through Greece to find food for Spetses. Killed by communist guerillas in first stage of Greek Civil War.

Agnes Katramadou. German widow of Spetses sailor. Convinces German officer not to execute male population in reprisal for killing of two German soldiers.

Stavros Niarchos. Shipping tycoon. Buys the small island off Spetses (Spetsopoula) and converts it into a game reserve and retreat for his celebrity guests.

Dimitris Petroutsis (Xynos). Last inhabitant of Spetsopoula. Told that Niarchos had bought the island, he dismisses him with a rhyme:

Ο ουρανός κι η θάλασσα έχουν το ίδιο χρώμα,
Ο Νίαρχος και ο Ξυνός θα μπουν στο ίδιο χώμα.

The sky and the sea have the same hue
The same soil awaits Xynos, and Niarchos too

John Fowles. Writer. Uses the landscape and history of Spetses as the background to his novel ‘The Magus’. «I have never seen so beautiful a landscape», he says; «a compound of exquisitely blue sky, brilliant sunlight, miles of rock and pine, and the sea.»

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