Important sights along the 26km Full Naturalistic Round
Historian Petros Haritatos presents different points of interest along the course of the 26km Run. Additional information may be found in his book “Undiscovered Spetses”.
The 1st kilometer goes through the town itself. Find out more about the relevant sights (e.g. the visit of George I of Greece, the home of the painters Eleni Altamura and Ioannis Altamouras) here.
The 1st kilometer is marked by a stone signpost, to the left of the small square before Spetses Hotel.
Beyond the red Chapel of Anastasi, at the bridge which marks the town limits, stand the island Schools (Anargyrios and Korgialenios School of Spetses) which are described here.
Past the 2nd kilometer begins the community of Ligoneri, named after the springs found just before the 3rd kilometer. Zoodochos Pigi Chapel lies to the left.
After the 4th kilometer, there is a dirt road on the left, which climbs towards Profitis Ilias. In the older days, donkeys followed this dirt road to make the “small round” of Spetses.
The entrance to Porto Heli Harbor (the ancient city of Alieis) can be seen across the other side of the strait, to the north. More to the west, there is Cape Korakia and behind it the island of Ypsili, with the Paleolithic Frahthi Cave just across it.
In the distance, to the west, lies the regional unit of Arcadia with the imposing Mt.Parnonas.
Past the 5th kilometer, the course continues towards Zogeria Bay. It was there that the residents of Spetses moved the quarantine station in 1838, which until then had been located at the Old Harbor, due to the cholera outbreak in Europe in 1837. The bay also served as a second naval station (along with the Old Harbor) for the Greek Revolutionary fleet. Moreover, an important Early Byzantine settlement (6th-7th century AD) was discovered at Zogeria Bay and it is likely that is was the seat of the Bishop of Pityoussa. A large basilica church, which has not been fully excavated yet, has been discovered there. Various findings from this area (coins, buckles and two signs) are on display at the Spetses Museum.
Far in the distance lies Bourboulo, a rock formation resembling a stone ship. To the left, the hillside is the property of the Niarchos family. Between those two, on the cape, stands the villa of ship-owner Panagiotis Laskarides, who has a particular interest in the heroes of the Greek Revolution and has so far funded the writing and publication of the biographies of Andreas “Miaoulis” Vokos and Constantine Kanaris. Below the villa stand the ruins of an Early Byzantine fortress dating back to the 5th-6th century AD.
The descent to Zogeria starts to the right, a little before the 6th kilometer. That is the start of the ascending road towards the 7th kilometer, which offers a beautiful view of Zogeria Bay and Palaiogiorgis Cape to the right. The ruins of a church built in the late 17th century on top of an older 7th century church lie there. The remains of a 28 to 30-year-old male were discovered in the narthex of the church. He bore an injury to the head, had all his teeth and his height was between 1.85 and 1.90m. Forty years after this discovery, around 1760, the dead man’s tomb was desecrated by suspected vampirism: the man’s spine had been removed and his knee caps had been broken, so that he may no longer rise from the dead!
The tour of the northern part of the island is concluded past the 8th kilometer and the course continues westerly. Across the sea, there is a view of Kynouria Province in Arcadia (the towns of Astros, Tyros, Leonidio and Poulithra).
On the descent, after the 8th kilometer, Rematakia Bay and Zaira Cave, on Cape Fokies, can be seen on the right. Scenes from the hit Greek movie Zaira were filmed at that location. Greek actress Aleka Katseli starred in the movie as the rich girl who falls in love with a poor young man against the wishes of her parents, who try everything to separate the young couple. In 1959, director Kostas Andritsos shot the film Bouboulina starring Irene Papas in the same location.
Past the 10th kilometer, and after going through Hondros Kavos, the fountain of Agia Paraskevi can be seen on the left, which supplied water to the Early Helladic II settlement, further down, close the beach (approx. 2400 BC).
Before and after the 11th kilometer, at the location of the signpost “Agia Paraskevi”, there are medieval ruins dating back to the 13th and 14th century AD, hidden below the thick vegetation on the hillside. These were possibly used as hideouts by the pirates travelling from Tsakonia to Ermionida. The area of Agia Paraskevi has the tallest and most peculiar pine trees on the island and is an ideal location for swimming and eating.
After a small descend, begins an ascend which reaches the 12th kilometer, before the entrance to Villa Yasemia, owned by the Botasis family. It is said that this was the house which inspired Villa Bourani in John Fowles’ The Magus. A downhill road begins there and at its end, a little after the 13th kilometer, a path leads to Agioi Anargyroi Beach. Agioi Anargyroi and Agia Paraskevi are two of the largest beaches on the south side of Spetses, and they have been both named after healing saints.
Bekiris Cave is also located on that cape. The entrance to the cave was once hidden and now it can be accessed either by sea or by rock-climbing. It is said that the women and children went there to hide when the Turco-Albanians arrived to revenge the Orlov Revolt in 1770. They were betrayed by Bekiris, though, and the sea turned red from the bloodshed.
Before the 14th kilometer starts an ascending road, leading to Xylokeriza. Across the sea, the view spans all the way to the regional unit of Lakonia and Cape Maleas. A descend towards the 15th kilometer follows and, after the bridge with the guardrails (which is called Gremismeni, meaning “ruined”, even though it no longer is), starts the 16th kilometer.
At the next bridge, over the River Karatza, starts an ascending road at the end of which, the island Velopoula or Parapola and, near it, the island Spetsopoula of the Niarchos family can be seen in the distance. This is also where the downhill trail towards Xylokeriza Beach starts. The island of Spetsopoula belonged to the Leonidas family, who had a mansion and farmlands on Spetses, producing olive oil and carobs. Around 1960 they signed Spetsopoula over to ship-owner Stavros Niarchos on a 99-year lease, and he turned it into a hunting retreat.
The 17th kilometer is at the next curve, with a nice view towards Xylokeriza Beach until the 18th kilometer, after which stands the villa of Dimitris Koutsolioutsos with its helipad.
All along the route, the hillsides have been formed into a series of terraces; this was a tremendously laborious task, aiming to level the hillsides and increase the area of cultivated land. Vines and wine-presses used to stand there, with paths leading to the shore, so that the grapes could be transported to the boats. When Sotirios Anargyros bought this land and turned the vines into a pine forest, the resin extractors replaced the farmers, and the wine-presses became resin-pits. Although the area consisted of farmlands when it was bought, before them a forest stretched in the same location and it is said that Xylokeriza produced the best timber for shipbuilding.
Moving on, there is the church of Panagia Elona at the top of the mountain, and down to the right there is the first view of the waste damp. A little farther down is the old Bairaktaris lime kiln. The 19th kilometer is on the left, at the old quarry. The quarry site is still visible; that was where they extracted the solid, jagged gray stones after which the area Agriopetres (meaning “jagged stones”) was named, in contrast to the smooth, round pebble stones found everywhere on the island.
The course continues downhill until it reaches the temple of Agios Christoforos, at the 20th kilometer. Pressing on towards the 21st kilometer, there is a nice view of Spetsopoula Harbor. The villa of ship-owner Nikolas Laimos and the Agiopateras Cape lie on Kouzounos Beach, where monk Christoforos Papoulakos arrived in 1850 and incited the people of the island against King Otto of Greece.
Across the sea, to the left of Spetsopoula island, one can see the island of Ai Giannis and, in the distance, the island Stavronisi. More to the left lie the uninhabited isle surrounding the island of Hydra, as well as Trikeri Isle, beyond which is Hydra, Dokos Isle and finally the Ermionida coastline.
Leaving behind the 21st kilometer, which is almost at the entrance to the Villa Laimou, an impenetrable wall of villas is encountered, obstructing the view to the beautiful Kouzounos Beach.
To the left, on a steep descending road, there is the olive grove of Maria Niarchou, which ends right after the 22nd kilometer, at the only remaining working olive mill on Spetses.
The official Spetses helipad stands to the right of the trail that climbs up alongside the olive grove. At the end of the ascending road, there is a view of Agia Marina Beach and the Vroustis mills on the Koutsi estate, where an Early Christian basilica of the 6th century AD is located. Evidence of a later-period church of the 17th century has been discovered on top of the older basilica.
At the 23rd kilometer is the area of Agia Marina, where an Early Helladic II settlement has been discovered (approx. 2400 BC). It used to be a naval station for the passing ships during the most prosperous period of the ancient city of Lerna. Amongst the ancient artifacts discovered in the area were ceramic libration vessels, resembling gravy-boats, which are the most ancient exhibit in the Spetses Museum.
A little further up the road, just before the gas station, is the turn towards the community Pityoussa on the right, where the course merges with the 5km race course.