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Tarpon Springs, Florida
Tarpon Springs became an important center for sponge fishing when Greek divers came to the area in the early 1900s. Although the industry has diminished, the Greek influence still is evident in the remaining sponge boats and in the dock area, where sponge shops and Greek restaurants and bakeries are plentiful. Sponge-diving exhibitions and deep-sea fishing charters are available from the dock area
A replica of St. Sophia's in Constantinople, the 1943 Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas, at the corner of Pinellas Avenue (US 19A) and Orange Street, is the center of colorful pageantry during Greek festivals.
The ancient craft of brass rubbing, transferring designs from grass engravings to paper, can be attempted at the Medieval Brass Rubbing Center on Dodecanese Boulevard; phone 727.934.6760.
Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce: 11 East Orange Street, Tarpon Springs, Florida 34689; phone 727.937.6109.
George Inness Jr. Pictures, in the Unitarian Universalist Church at Grand Boulevard and Reed Street, contains 11 religious paintings by George Inness, Jr., son of the American 19th-century landscape artist. The paintings depict his extraordinary treatment of light and use of the green tones that were name after him. Guided tours are available. Allow 30 minutes minimum. Tuesday through Sunday 2-5, November through May; closed holidays. Las tour begins 30 minutes before closing. Phone 727.937.4682.
Konger Tarpon Springs Aquarium is at 850 Dodecanese Boulevard. A simulated coral reef, complete with native plants and tropical fish, illustrates life under the sea in a 120,000-gallon tank. Marine life from the Pacific Ocean is highlighted in the Pacific Jewels Aquarium and South Pacific Predators Tank. Visitors may watch a feeding at the moray eel exhibit, while a tidal pool offers a close look at such sea creatures as starfish and hermit crabs. Small sharks and stingrays can be fed in a petting tank. Allow 30 minutes minimum. Monday through Saturday 10-5, Sunday noon-5. Phone 727.938.5378.
St. Nicholas Boat Line, .4 miles west of jct. Alt. US 19 at 693 Dodecanese Boulevard offers 35-minute narrated, round-trip cruises through the historic sponge docks of Tarpon Springs. A diver in traditional diving gear provides a demonstration of sponge harvesting. The boat has been used in the filming of several movies and television shows. Allow 1 hour minimum. Departures daily approximately every 45 minutes, 10-5; closed Greek Orthodox Easter and December 25. Phone 727.942.6425.
Spongeorama Exhibit Center, on Dodecanese Boulevard off Alt. US 19, includes the Museum of Sponge Diving History and a 30-minute film presentation about sponge diving. Allow 1 hour minimum. Open Monday through Saturday 10-6, Sunday noon-4. Phone 727.943.9509.
Name: Tarpon Springs, Florida