(1900 Times Atlas of the World)
|Key dates (some of them are based on evidence related to nearby Egina and Napoli di Romania):|
XIVth century: Venice acquires the island which is renamed Spezzie or Spezzia, maybe a reference to spezie (spices)
1540: the island is ceded to the Ottomans
1687: the Venetians reoccupy Spezzia
1715: Spetse returns to the Ottomans
1770: First uprising against the Ottomans
1821: Second uprising against the Ottomans
The next islet is called Upsili, and beyond is seen Specie, bearing S. 24. 20 E. which has a tolerable trading town and several merchant vessels. The islands of the Argolic Gulph are named Pityusa (Specie), Irine, and Ephyre, by Pliny, Book 4.
William Gell - An Itinerary of Greece With a Commentary on Pausanias and Strabo - 1810
The island of Spezzia is located just a few miles off the coast of Morea (Peloponnesus) at the entrance to the Gulf of Napoli di Romania (Nauplia) aka Argolic Gulph.
View of Kastelli, the site of the Venetian town
Nov. l6, 1821. - We anchored off Spezzia at about
two P.M. (..) The town is situated on the east side, close down to the sea. (..) We went on shore and into the town, which
is pleasantly situated on the slope of a hill, built
in the same style as Hydra, but not so irregularly. (..) Many of the inhabitants received us on
landing; and we proceeded to what was called the
House of Assembly, where we found eight or ten
of the principal men, others being absent at Argos. They had met to form a provisional government.
John Madox - Excursions in the Holy land, Egypt, etc. - 1834
Today the town of Spetse stretches for a couple of miles along the eastern coast of the island: before 1770 the inhabitants lived on a low hill protected by walls and by the ravines caused by two small streams. The site was (and still is) called Kastelli after It. castello (castle).
A remaining section of the old walls
Spezzia has been enriched by its commerce; it is
situated at the entrance of the Gulf of Napoli,
on each side of which is a passage, and is rather
low and easy of access, with a range of hills
in the centre of the island. Madox
In 1770 (in the context of the Russian-Ottoman war) the inhabitants of Spetse made an attempt to drive out their rulers, but the revolt failed and the Ottomans set fire to Kastelli, so today very little is left of the Venetian fortifications. In the 1774 Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarka which ended the war, the Ottomans had to agree to recognize Russia as the patron of Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire and to allow them to develop a merchant navy.
Old churches of Kastelli: Taxiarches and Ayia Triada; a bell tower of another church is shown in the image used as background for this page
June 18, 1822.
The houses at Spezzia are low, and irregularly
built of stone, some being plastered; they extend from the shore nearly to the top of the
island. (..) The population is
from two to three thousand. Madox
After the 1770 fire the site was almost entirely abandoned and the inhabitants moved towards the harbour to the south of Kastelli: today the majority of the buildings have a relatively modern appearance: there were many churches in Kastelli: only a few still exist.
Animal life in Kastelli
The soil is gravelly, and produces a few
trees, as oranges, figs, and almonds. The mutton
is particularly good, though the inhabitants live a
good deal on goat's flesh. Madox
While just half a mile away modern Spetse has a very cosmopolitan appearance with luxury hotels and cafés, Kastelli has a very rural appeal. At times one feels he is visiting a farm.
Tower near the old harbour
June 18, 1822. Spezzia is considered the second naval island. (..) There are a few batteries on the town side; the
Spezziotes have a good many ships, and their principal port is opposite, in the Morea, which
is but a short distance, and where they have
erected a strong battery. The Capitan Pasha (Ottoman Admiral)
attempted with all his fleet, amounting to upwards of one hundred sail and several line-of-battle ships, to take this island, and was foiled
by the perseverance and exertions of the Greek
fleet, under the command of that fine old veteran,
Admiral Miaulis. (..) The harbour is
small, and contained chiefly fire-ships. (..) The ships of the Spezziotes are
mostly upon a small scale, carrying generally
from ten to fourteen guns.
(..) August 7, 1822. Mr. Scott (..) during his progress in the morning, amongst
other boats that he stopped was one having on
board Captain Georgio Saini (belonging to Hydra)
and Madame Bobolina, of patriotic celebrity. Madox
The Venetian system of defence was completed by towers at key points of the island for the early detection of enemies. Spetse played a key role in the 1821 fight for independence: a lady from Spetse, Laskarina Bouboulina, led the Greek fleet in the successful blockade of the Malvasia fortress.
Introductory page on the Venetian Fortresses in Greece
List of the fortresses
|Geographic area||Location||Ionian Islands||Corfù (Kerkyra) Paxo (Paxi) Santa Maura (Lefkadas) Cefalonia (Kephallonia) Asso (Assos) Itaca (Ithaki) Zante (Zachintos) Cerigo (Kythera)||Greek Mainland||Butrinto (Butrint) Parga Preveza and Azio (Aktion) Vonizza (Vonitsa) Lepanto (Nafpaktos) Atene (Athens)||Peloponnese (Morea)||Castel di Morea (Rio), Castel di Rumelia (Antirio) and Patrasso (Patra) Castel Tornese (Hlemoutsi) and Glarenza Navarino (Pilo) and Calamata Modon (Methoni) Corone (Koroni) Braccio di Maina, Zarnata, Passavà and Chielefà Mistrà Corinto (Korinthos) Argo (Argos) Napoli di Romania (Nafplio) Malvasia (Monemvassia)||Aegean Islands||Negroponte (Chalki) Castelrosso (Karistos) Oreo Lemno (Limnos) Schiatto (Skiathos) Scopello (Skopelos) Alonisso Schiro (Skyros) Andro (Andros) Tino (Tinos) Micono (Mykonos) Siro (Syros) Egina (Aegina) Spezzia (Spetse) Paris (Paros) Antiparis (Andiparos) Nasso (Naxos) Serifo (Serifos) Sifno (Syphnos) Milo (Milos) Argentiera (Kimolos) Santorino (Thira) Folegandro (Folegandros) Stampalia (Astipalea)||Crete||Grambusa (Granvousa) Castello (Kasteli/Kissamos) La Canea (Xania) Souda Candia (Iraklion) Rettimo (Rethymno) Spinalonga and Castel Mirabello Castles on the southern coast Sittia and Paleocastro|
You may refresh your knowledge of the history of Venice in the Levant by reading an abstract from
the History of Venice by Thomas Salmon, published in 1754. The Italian text is accompanied by an English summary.