'Armata' Bicentenary

On Saturday 10th September 2022 the Argo-Saronic island of Spetses commemorated the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Spetses, which occured during the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829).  The famous naval battle against the Ottoman fleet took place from 8th to 13th September 1822 and has been recorded as one of the most important events of the Revolution.  The Municipality organised the 'Armata', the biggest celebration of the island with a representation of the naval battle, with cultural events throughout the whole week.  In 1822 the Ottoman fleet sailed from Monemvasia to resupply the Palamidi fortress in Nafplio, which was besieged by the land forces of Dimitrios Ypsilantos and the sea forces of Laskerina Bouboulina, who sailed from Spetses at the beginning of the Greek Revolution.

The Ottoman forces, which consisted of 84 ships under the command of Admiral Mehmet Ali Pasha was confronted by the Greek fleet under Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, which consisted of 56 ships from Spetses, Hydra and Psara.  The opposing fleets met at the entrance of the Strait of the Argolic Gulf, which separates Spetses from Ermionida.  After a long six-hour engagement and with night approaching, the Ottoman ships retreated.  According to Greek historian Anastasios Orlandos, the retreat of the Ottoman fleet occured thanks to the conduct of Kosmas Barbatis (1792-1887) who directed his fireship against the Ottoman flagship, which fled to avoid it, followed by all the other Ottoman ships.  Although the Ottoman fleet retreated, they had no intention of sailing away.

On 10th September, the Ottoman fleet returned and attempted a second breakthrough.  A second battle followed which forced the Ottomans to flee again due to the Hellenic navy's use of fireships.  Finally a third attack took place on 13th September, according to Varfis, a fireship sank an Ottoman brig, this single loss broke the Ottoman spirits and they chose to retreat to Crete, losing a corvette on the way, and from there returned to Constantinople.  Receiving no supplies from their fleet, this resulted in the Ottoman garrison within the Palamidi fortress at Nafplio to capitulate and surrender to the Greek revolutionaries at the end of November.

The festive events organised by the Spetses Municipality included theatrical performances, exhibitions and other cultural events that culminated with the re-enactment of the historic naval battle. The present day reconstruction of the naval battle is an exaggerated version of actual events, including the burning of the Ottoman flagship, an incident not mentioned in any historical sources.  The events concluded with a modern electronic music party held in the old port on Sunday.  Greek national TV channel ERT was in Spetses over the weekend to cover the bicentennial anniversary, this year's event was the first after two years of cancelled events due to the global pandemic.  'Armata' (Armada) is an annual event celebrated in the second week of September.