The historic Armata Celebration: Experience one of summer’s last weekend e

Photo credits: Eliana Russo

The historic Armata Celebration:
Experience one of summer’s last weekend escapes on stylish Spetses

Experience one of summer’s last weekend getaways on the island of Spetses and celebrate the historic Armata - a revival of the legendary naval battle of Spetses between the Greek and Turkish navy fleets.The highlight? Watching the evening sky over Spetses turn to day as spectacular fireworks rain over a model Ottoman vessel that is set alight at sea to commemorate the 1822 milestone event. Nowadays, Armata feast has become more of a cosmopolitan affair, where people from all over Greece and abroad visit Spetses to soak up the social buzz during one of summer’s final flings.

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Cosmopolitan event
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Photo credits: Eliana Russo

The historic Armata celebration

As mentioned in a previous story A Classy Island Called Spetses, the island of Spetses is considered a brilliant summer escape for Athenians. One of the “hottest” weekends, which marks both the end of the summer season and a heroic page in Greek history, is the so-called Armata weekend. It takes place during the second weekend of September, in memory of the pivotal naval battle of Spetses between the Greek and Turkish fleets (on 8th of September, 1822), in which 100 local ships took on ten times as many Ottoman battleships and triumphed. The victory was considered one of the most important battles of the 1821 Greek revolution, greatly boosting the morale of the Greek Revolutionaries against the mighty Ottoman Empire. In honour of the Greek sailors - heroes of Spetses - the island’s municipality organises every year the “Armata”, Spetses’ most important cultural feast. The residents of Spetses dedicated their victory to the Virgin Mary Armata, based on the belief that the Virgin Mary had helped them win the battle. During festivities that last for a whole week, several cultural events reenact actual scenes that took place almost 200 years ago.

Armata: A cosmopolitan event

These days, the Armata feast is a cosmopolitan celebration, drawing people from all over Greece and abroad to elegant Spetses. You’ll have to share Spetses: the island’s charming pebbled lanes and seafront squares are filled with visitors making the most of one of summer’s last weekend getaways, at least that was the case before coronavirus. But Armata is definitely worth experiencing once for its grand fireworks and warm, festive atmosphere, and there are always spots where you enjoy your privacy.

The best spot: Poseidonion Grand Hotel Spetses  

The revival of the famous battle takes place on Saturday evening, in the small sea corridor between Spetses and the Peloponnese coast, in front of Spetses’ Main Square and the landmark Poseidonion Grand Hotel, built over a century ago by tobacco tycoon Sotirios Anargyros. Greek Government officials, as well as representatives of the Greek Church, participate in the festivities. The highlight of the evening is the arson of the vessel that represents the Ottoman Navy’s flagship, ending with spectacular fireworks that turn the night sky to day. As soon as the revival of the battle is finished, as is customary in Greece, a party kicks off (usually there is a concert with a famous Greek singer). I will always remember the exciting Armata celebrations of my 20’s, actually the whole weekend was one long celebration! My recommendation for the best spot to enjoy, the Saturday Armata festivities on Spetses? The Poseidonion Grand Hotel restaurant. Book a table well in advance and, you will have a splendid view of the battle from their beautiful terrace, away from the masses and enjoy a lovely meal as well. Poseidonion Grand is considered one of the most luxurious hotels on Spetses. Modelled on the famous Negresco hotel in Nice, it will set you back a fair bit, but is absolutely worth it.

Photo credits: Eliana Russo
Photo credits: Eliana Russo

Armata 2021-2022: Put it on your bucket list!

Come September in Spetses, the historical importance of Armata is always on the mind of Spetsiots. Unfortunately, this year, due to restrictions of the coronavirus, there will be no cultural celebrations - only religious ceremonies, to mark the occasion. The Armata feast of September 2021, though, looks set to be bigger and brighter than ever, as we celebrate 200 years since the Greek revolution! Personally, I can’t wait for Armata 2022, coinciding as it will with the bicentennial of this triumphant naval battle of Spetses. I am certain that the municipality of Spetses, along with all residents and visitors, will make this historic milestone an event to remember! Setting sail to Spetses to witness this lively climax of the summer season for yourself is definitely one of my top tier recommendations when it comes to Greece.

Put Armata 2021 or even better 2022, on your bucket list. You will not regret it! The historic Armata Celebration: Experience one of summer’s last weekend getaways on stylish Spetses! Do you want to visit Spetses and discover its cosmopolitan charms and the much-loved Armata festival? Book now!

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Photo credits: Eliana Russo
Photo credits: Eliana Russo
Photo credits: Eliana Russo
Photo credits:Eliana Russo
Photo credits: Eliana Russo