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Spinalonga island description and photos - Greece: Agios Nikolaus (Crete island). Detailed information about the attraction. Description, photographs and a map showing the nearest significant objects. The name in English is Spinalonga.
Photo and description
Spinalonga island (officially called Kalydon) is located in the Gulf of Elounda in the north-east of Crete, Lasithi region, opposite the town of Elounda. It is located next to the Kolokita Peninsula ("Great Spinalonga").
In ancient times, the island of Spinalonga, like the Kolokita peninsula, was part of the island of Crete. On the site of modern Elounda was the rich ancient Greek and later Roman port city of Olus. After an earthquake in the 2nd century AD Olus was almost completely submerged, and between Crete and Kolokita a bay and a narrow isthmus formed. From the middle of the 7th century, Elounda and the surrounding area became almost deserted due to constant pirate raids.
In the middle of the 15th century, the Venetians began to extract salt here, and the region began to develop rapidly. Taking into account the commercial value of the area, constant pirate raids and the emerging Turkish threat, the Venetians in 1526 separated part of the peninsula and created the island of Spinalonga, the main purpose of which was to strengthen the protection of the port of Elounda. In 1578, the Venetians commissioned the engineer Bressani to plan the island's fortifications. He established blockhouses at the highest points of the northern and southern sides of Spinalonga, as well as fortification of the ring along the coast to protect the island from enemy landings. In 1579 the foundation stone of the fortress was laid. Later, additional fortifications were built on the top of the hill. Despite the fact that Crete surrendered to the Turks in 1669, the Venetians retained control of the island of Spinalonga until 1715.
Spinalonga is also known as the "island of the lepers", as it housed a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. One of the gates of the fortress was called "Dante's Gate" and was adapted for the admission of newly arrived patients who did not yet know that they would not have a way back and they would not return back. But it was still better, since on the island they had food, medical care and more or less suitable living conditions. Previously, leprosy patients were expelled from society and, as a rule, lived out their days in caves far from civilization. It was one of the last active leprosy colonies in Europe. The last person left the island in 1962. Since then, the island has been uninhabited.
Today Spinalonga is one of the most visited tourist destinations. You can get here from Plaka, Elounda and Agios Nikolaos.
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Topic: Spinalonga island description and photos - Greece: Agios Nikolaus (Crete).