A Taste of Greece in Tarpon Springs
Known as the “Sponge Capital of the World”, Tarpon Springs, Florida fully embraces the Greek heritage of many of its residents. Today visitors can experience a taste of Greece with music, food, shops and good times!
Tarpon Springs’ first sponge business opened in the 1880s. The Gulf of Mexico provided for plenty of opportunities for sponge fisherman to dive down to harvest these species. Since Greece already had a lot of sponge divers, immigrants from the country moved to Tarpon Springs to work on the boats.
By the mid-1900s, Tarpon Springs’ sponge industry was generating millions of dollars a year. Many Greeks had moved to the area for work and to be close to family in America.
Over the years the city of Tarpon Springs has been encapsulated as a Greek community. Visitors and locals love the atmosphere that the city provides. Every year thousands of people explore Tarpon Springs and take advantage of its unique culture.
Violet Sky’s Visit
Seeing all of the sponges was an entirely new experience for me. I did not realize how many sponges are harvested from the nearby Gulf of Mexico waters. As someone who has always wanted to visit Greece, this city brings a lot of the culture right to Florida.
The various shops sell some beautiful smelling soaps to accompany a souvenir sponge. There are also a lot of awesome restaurants that serve with wonderful portion sizes if you are into trying new cuisines.
The boat shown behind me in the photos is actually called the Apalachicola. It was given that name since that is the city in which it was constructed by George Castrinos. It was built in 1835 to the length of 45 feet. The boat was used for sponge diving until World War II when it was then taken over by the U.S. Navy. The Navy used the boat as a sea rescue vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. It was sent back out to sponge diving after the war and then decommissioned in 1982. Since then it has been restored and put on display with a new name of “Aegean Isles”.
How to Visit
Tarpon Springs is located in northern Pinellas County. This coastal city is just a short drive from many popular places within the Tampa Bay area. Many of the shops and sights are free to explore!
Thanks for reading and as always, keep on truckin’!