Spetses town (aka Kastelli) meanders along the harbor and inland in a lazy fashion, with most of its neoclassical mansions partly hidden from envious eyes by high walls and greenery. Much of the town's street life takes place on the main square, the Dapia, the name also given to the harbor where the ferries and hydrofoils now arrive. The massive bulk of the 19th-century Poseidon Hotel dominates the west end of the harbor. The Old Harbor, Baltiza, largely silted up, lies just east of town, before the popular swimming spots at Ayia Marina.
If you sit at a cafe on the Dapia, you'll eventually see pretty much everyone in town -- who wants to be seen -- passing by. The handsome black-and-white pebble mosaic commemorates the moment during the War of Independence when the first flag, with the motto "Freedom or Death," was raised. Thanks to its large fleet, Spetses played an important part in the War of Independence, routing the Turks in the Straits of Spetses on September 8, 1822. The victory is commemorated every year on the weekend closest to September 8, with celebrations, church services, and the burning of a ship that symbolizes the defeated Turkish fleet.
As you stroll along the waterfront, you'll notice the monumental bronze statue of a woman, her left arm shielding her eyes as she looks out to sea. The statue honors one of the greatest heroes of the War of Independence, Laskarina Bouboulina, the daughter of a naval captain from Hydra. Bouboulina financed the warship Agamemnon, oversaw its construction, served as its captain, and was responsible for several naval victories. She was said to be able to drink any man under the table, and strait-laced citizens sniped that she was so ugly, the only way she could keep a lover was with a gun. She was shot in a family feud years after retiring from sea. You can see where Bouboulina lived when she was ashore by visiting Laskarina Bouboulina House (tel. 22980/72-077; www.bouboulinamuseum-spetses.gr), in Pefkakia, just off the port. It keeps flexible hours (posted on the house), but is usually open mornings and afternoons from Easter until October. An English-speaking guide often gives a half-hour tour. Admission is 5€. If the Spetses Mexis Museum (tel. 22980/72-994), in the stone Mexis mansion (signposted on the waterfront), has reopened by the time you visit, you can see Bouboulina's bones, along with archaeological finds and mementos of the War of Independence. In the nearby boatyards you can often see caiques being made with tools little different from those used when Bouboulina’s mighty Agamemnon was built here. Check when you arrive for the new hours and fee. If you head east away from the Dapia, you'll come to the Paleo Limani (aka the Baltiza, or Old Harbor), where many yacht owners moor their boats and live nearby in villas hidden behind high walls. The Cathedral of Ayios Nikolaos (St. Nicholas) was built in the 17th century as the church of a monastery, now no longer functioning. The great moment here took place on April 3, 1821, when the flag of Spetses first flew from St. Nicolas's campanile as support for the War of Independence against the Turks. A bronze flag beside the church's war memorial commemorates this moment and a pebble mosaic commemorates the War of Independence (look for the figure of Bouboulina). While you're at the Old Harbor, have a look at the boatyards, where you can often see caiques being made with tools little different from those used when Bouboulina's mighty Agamemnon was built here.
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