Spinalonga Island

“Spinalonga. She played with the word rolling it around her tongue like an olive stone.
The island lay directly ahead and as the boat approached the great Venetian fortification which fronted the sea […].
This, she speculated, might be a place where history was still warm, not stone cold, where the inhabitants were really not mythical”

Victoria Hislop in her best-selling book The Island.

Once a lepper colony, the abandoned fortress is a fascinating destination for a day-trip, on a small island filled with pebble beaches. This unoccupied island is easily accessible from Elounda and Aghios Nikolaos. Tourist boats depart from both towns on a daily basis.

There is no accommodation on Spinalonga, meaning all tours last only a few hours. Boat trips from Elounda take approximately fifteen minutes while trips departing Aghios Nikolaos can take nearly one hour.

The Venetian cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli reports that Spinalonga was not always an island, but was once linked with the adjacent peninsula of Kolokitha. He mentions that in 1526, the Venetians cut down a portion of the peninsula and thus created the island. Because of its position the island was fortified from its earliest years in order to protect the entranceway of the port of Ancient Olous.

Spinalonga is notable for being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. The last inhabitant, a priest, left the island in 1962. This was to maintain the religious tradition of the Greek Orthodox church, in which a buried person has to be commemorated at following intervals of 40 days; 6 months; 1 year; 3 years; and 5 years, after their death.

Spinalonga island is the second most visited attraction in Crete. Thousands of visitors every year walk along its narrow streets, capturing their imagination. Several books have been written about the island including “Spinalonga,the isle of the Damned" by Victor Zorbas - a local expert on the island, "The Island" by Victoria Hislop and "Spinalonga" by John Ware.

Spinalonga island is the second most visited attraction in Crete. Thousands of visitors every year walk along its narrow streets, capturing their imagination. Several books have been written about the island including “Spinalonga,the isle of the Damned" by Victor Zorbas - a local expert on the island, "The Island" by Victoria Hislop and "Spinalonga" by John Ware.