Tarpon Springs is a town full of surprises, called the Venice of the South for its sparkling bayous and waterways, historically a resort area and artistic community and perhaps one of Americas best kept travel secrets. One of the main focal pints for all of this bustling activity is The Sponge Exchange, a perfect stepping-off point for a visit to this extraordinary community.
The Sponge Exchange provided the first organized clearinghouse for the sponge industry, founded by settlers from the Greek Islands of the Aegean in 1907. They brought their culture and their industry with them – their food, religion, their music, their shipbuilding plans and diving equipment and above all their undying zest for life. Eventually the Tarpon Springs Sponge Exchange was to become the hub for the largest Sponge Industry in the country.
It was the enterprising Pappas family along with the Greek community who most recently restored the Sponge Exchange, transforming it into a scintillating Mediterranean jewel, reminiscent of the pristine towns of the Greek Aegean.
Surrounding the sparkling fountain where Neptune grants wishes for pennies, unique shops feature goods from the far corners of the world including home decor items, refreshing drinks, elegant and beautiful clothing for men, women and children, jewelry from couture to mod, gems and crystalline quartz handmade crafts, unusual gifts, handcrafted candles, and fine fragrances and cosmetics.