HISTORY & CULTURE
ISLAND OF SCENTS
Spetses is a small island of 27 sq m area and a population of 4,000 people. The island’s beauty blends the blue colours of the sea with the green freshness of the pine forest, along with the small boats, the horse carriages, the landscape, the churches and the stunningly beautiful traditional architecture.
Spetses was originaly called ‘Pitioussa’ due to the abundance of pine trees and retained that name until the 6t century AD, when Slavic and Arab raids caused the depopulation of the island. Subsequent conquerors were the Venetians, who named the island ‘Isola di Spezzie’ (i.e. island of scents) which later Hellenised to “Spetsai”.
The island of Spetses is small but is nationally acknowledged for its valuable contribution to the Greek Revolution of 1821. At around 1774, the Spetsiots began maritime trading and over time the Old Harbour was transformed into a large shipbuilding area, where craft, large and small, were constructed. Thus a new age began for the island, during which it acquired great wealth and commercial power. Many types of ships were built using wood from the island’s abundant forests.
During the 1821Revolution the Spetsiots were the first islanders to revolt, raising their revolutionary flag with the words ‘freedom or death’ printed on it, in April 1821. Prior to this, Laskarina Bouboulina had already acted, raising her own private revolutionary flag on the mast of her ship Agamemnon which she saluted with cannon fire in front of the Old Harbour of Spetses. With the start of the Revolution, squadrons of Spetsiot ships blockaded the castles of Nafplion and Monemvasia, thus cutting off the maritime supply of the Turks, and Spetsiot ships attacked Turkish vessels throughout the Aegean.
There are two important museums the ‘Laskarina Bouboulina’ and the ‘Hatziyanni Mexis’ where the visitor can take a tour at the houses of the captains of old. Personal items along with equipment from their ships and archaelogical artefacts are on display.