Every second week of September the amazing Festival of Armata takes place on Spetses Island celebrating Panagia Armata (Virgin Mary of the “Armata”) and commemorating the great Naval Battle of Spetses (September 8, 1822).
This major victory of the naval forces of Spetses against the Ottoman fleet during the Greek War of Independence of 1821, was accomplished thanks to the act of bravery of the Spetsiote Captain Kosmas Barbatsis, who achieved with his own fire ship to set the Turkish Flagship on fire and blow it up.
This act of heroism is re-enacted every year since 1931, with dramatisations of this victory culminating in the burning of a Turkish Flagship replica followed by a spectacularly choreographed show of fireworks and music.
Local boats make their candlelit way, very slowly, out towards the middle of the sea, off the Poseidonion jetty. They travel from both sides meeting in the middle, where the locally made ‘Turkish’ boat sits bobbing on the water. At about 11pm, when all the boats are in position, the commentary in Greek outlining the history of the battle of 1821 begins. Everyone listens and waits in suspense, as the story reaches its climax and and a small fishing boat approaches the ‘Turkish’ boat. Within seconds it bursts into flames and fireworks pour out from within and people scream with delight.
This is a week-long celebration on the island, with many festivities taking place and there are lots of free activities for adults and children- including cultural & athletic events, traditional dances, theater performances, concerts, art exhibitions and various events honoring Laskarina Bouboulina, legendary heroine of the Greek Revolution of 1821. Also, a special mass is held at the chapel Panagia Armata located at the Old Harbour as well as in Agios Nikolaos, the Metropolis Church of the island.
Thousands of people from Greece and around the world travel to Spetses Island every year in September to experience this stunning spectacle.