The most important moment in the history of the island is its participation in the Liberation War of 1821. In 1821, Spetses had a strong shipping industry, wealthy ship owners, and crews prepared for war. Although they had paid a heavy price for their participation in the Orlov Revolt in 1770, the people of Spetses were among the first Greeks to join in the struggle for freedom without considering the possible consequences.
The greatest moment in the struggle of the Spetsiots was the 1822 battle between the Greek fleet (comprising vessels from Spetses, Hydra and Psara) and the Turks in the open sea of the Argolic Gulf. According to the history of Chatzianargyros, 140 ships took part in this naval battle. At the most critical point in the battle, Spetsiot fire ship captain Kosmas Barbatsis managed to set fire to the Turkish flagship and force the Turkish fleet to retreat. In commemoration of this historic event, Spetsiots built the church of the Virgin Mary Armata in the vicinity of the lighthouse of Spetses.
The anniversary of the naval battle is celebrated on the second Sunday of September each year with large variety of events that begin a week in advance. The climax of the celebration is the re-enactment of the explosion of the Turkish flagship, accompanied by many spectacular fireworks.
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