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Spinalonga Island

Listed under Islands in Crete, Greece.

  • Photo of Spinalonga Island
  • Photo of Spinalonga Island
  • Photo of Spinalonga Island
Photo of Spinalonga Island
Photo by flickr user Jorge-11
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Spinalonga wasn’t always an unoccupied island known for pebbly beaches, ancient fortifications and an old leper colony. At the beginning of the 16th Century it was part of the peninsular, but the Venetians who had recently moved into the area hacked away a narrow section of land cutting Spinalonga off. Once cut off they then found they needed to fortify the island as well – and both these alterations are still visible today, there are big block houses at the highest points of both the north and south sides of the island and great big walls running around sections of it. With all this fortification the Venetians were able to hang onto the island for a couple of centuries until the Ottomans took it and eventually it became a leper colony – one of the last in Europe, it only closed down in 1962.

The leper colony was actually a pretty nice place to live with lepers getting far better care than they would have elsewhere. The colony buildings are part of the reason this island is such a tourist attraction, but it’s a lot less grizzly than people think it’s going to be, more like a deserted town with lots of little houses running down to the fort walls and the ocean.

Thanks to the Venetians the only way to get to the island is by boat which leaves from Elounda or Agios Nikolaos.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

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