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Tarpon Springs, Florida
By: Masha Persanova


The historic Tarpon Springs is a unique piece of Greece in Florida. There is a lot to see andádo here ´┐Ż from the world famous Sponge Docks to deep sea fishing, from antique shops in the historic downtown area to watching a sunset on the Gulf of Mexico. The city was named for the great fish found frequently off shore.

The community is permanently enriched by the Mediterranean heritage brought at the turn of the century by Greek sponge divers and their families. Although the city was developed in the 1880s as a winter resort for wealthy Northerners, the arrival of the Greek sponge divers in 1905 changed the city forever. The early sponge divers created a need at the docks for eating places for the boat crews. Then as news of the industry grew, people began coming to the docks to see the sponges. Shops opened so people could buy the sponges and other souvenirs - thus the tourism industry in Tarpon Springs was born. That industry was nearly wiped out in the 1940s when red tide destroyed the sponge beds off Florida's coast, but was re-established in the 1980s when new beds were found.


With approximately 15 restaurants and more than 100 shops, the Sponge Docks offer something of interest for everyone. You can take a leisurely sightseeing cruise down the Anclote River, enjoy a lunch or dinner cruise to the Gulf, take a 5 hour casino cruise, or experience a live, sponge diving exhibition You can also visit the 120,000 gallon salt water aquarium, tour the sponge museum, or go deep sea fishing.

A mile south of the Sponge Docks is downtown Tarpon Springs, which is listed in The National Register of Historic Places. A mixture of antique shops, art galleries, specialty shops, and restaurants, this area is the vibrant center of the city. Also in this area is the Cultural Center, where a variety of exhibits, concerts, and programs are held St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, a replica of St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople, is open daily to visitors and worshipers. At the Universalist Church, the paintings of world-renowned landscape artist George Imess, Jr. can be seen from October to May.


The Tarpon Springs is the perfect place to sample Greek cuisine; you will be tempted to stop near numerous Greek bakeries.

The city is also famous for The Pinellas Trail. Theá38 miles of continuous paved trailástretches from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg and is enjoyed by walkers, hikers, bikers, and rollerblades.

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Tarpon Springs, Florida
By: Masha Persanova
   
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