Each year, the weekend closest to September 8, takes place the Armata in Spetses. And I go there every year (or almost). This important celebration commemorates the victory won by the Greeks in the struggle for independence against the Ottoman Empire. If this is an important historical moment, it is also a real popular festival with reenactment of the naval battle on the water, fireworks, popular dances and songs. My children like it a lot… and me too.
Armata 2022 will take place from September 8 to 11, an event not to be missed for its 200th anniversary! And this year, the re-enactment of the naval battle, in addition to the usual fireworks, will have something special…
Thursday, September 8, 2022 : Musical and narrative event at the Bouboulina museum and prayers in the church of Panagia Armata.
Friday, September 9, 2022 : Concert by Giorgos Theofanous, surrounded by other artists
Saturday September 10, 2022 : the Philharmonic Orchestra of Corfu will perform in the morning around the beach of Spetses
Why go to the Armata festival in Spetses?
There are several good reasons to attend the Armata in Spetses:
- first of all, because it is a very nice sound and light showwhich deserves to be seen at least once.
- then, because it is always pleasant to spend a weekend in Spetses. This island has the advantage of being close to Athens (to find out how to get there, see our article A weekend in Spetses).
- leaving for the weekend just after the start of the school year gives the feeling of still being on vacation!
- and it’s one of the most pleasant times to enjoy Spetses. The weather is nice, generally the temperatures are still warm but less oppressive than in July-August. The sea has warmed up in the summer months and is the perfect temperature for swimming.
What is Armata? A little historical reminder
In 1822, in the context of the Greek War of Independence, after the defeat of the Turkish army at Dervenakia by Theodore Kolokotronis, very few fortresses still resisted the Greeks. Among these, the fortress of Palamidi in Nafplion still remained in Ottoman hands. The Greeks decided to besiege it, led by the famous Bouboulina.
The Turkish fleet, in order to supply the fortress of Palamidi, first tried to attack the islands of Spetses and Hydra. Mexis, a captain from Spetses, made the decision to transfer women and children to Hydraan island more difficult to access (and therefore less vulnerable) due to its steep coasts.
On September 8, 1822, the famous naval battle of Spetses took place.. The Turkish fleet was clearly superior in number of boats compared to the Greek fleet. The struggle between the two armies was fierce and lasted a long time. The space between Hydra and Spetses was covered in smoke. To the extent that the people of Hydra believed that Spetses had caught fire. The Greeks managed to burn the flagship of the Turks, which sank in the port of Spetses. The Turks then retreated in panic. And the Gulf of Nafplion was thus freed.
The Greeks attributed this victory to the Virgin whose small church is on the port of Spetses and whose feast day is September 8.
The recent history of Greece is often unknown, we have dedicated an article to it which relates the important facts from 1821 to the present day.
The Armata of Spetses today
The representation of this historic event attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the island of Spetses every year.
A few weeks before the start of the festival, local boat builders make a wooden boat which is used to symbolize the Turkish flagship of 1822. This boat is then brought to the port of Spetses.
The festival week starts on Monday and usually offers a full program with Greek dances, concerts and shows.
The grand finale takes place Saturday night closest to September 8. The evening begins around 9 p.m. with dancing and music. Meanwhile, in the harbor, boats lit by flaming torches travel very slowly towards the wooden boat symbolizing the Turkish boat. Around 10 p.m., when all the boats are in position, then begins the story of the naval battle (in Greek, with a summary in English beforehand). The audience listens religiously and then the story reaches its climax, the music rises crescendo and a small fishing boat approaches the “Turkish” boat to set it on fire. In a few seconds, the wooden boat ignites and fireworks go off from inside the boat, simulating an explosion. All around, people are screaming with joy.
The evening continues with a magnificent fireworks display on the water and music. All in a festive and friendly atmosphere.
The Armata in practice
Where : on the island of Spetses
When : the Armata takes place every year on the Saturday evening closest to September 8th. The show starts around 9:30 p.m., on the port. It’s usually crowded, so it’s best to arrive 30 minutes before the start of the show.
How much does it cost ? The Armata festival is completely free Just plan the cost of a stay in Spetses.
An advice : try to book your accommodation early enough because you will not be the only ones who want to go to Spetses at this time.
To find out more about Spetses: how to get there, how to get around, where to sleep? read our article A weekend in Spetses
So, will we see you at the next Armata de Spetses?
Island of Spetses
08/09/2022 – 11/09/2022
Each year, the Saturday evening closest to September 8
Type of event: Festival