Spinalonga Island: Once it was a leper colony, but…
Spinalonga is a rocky island that appears to float on the turquoise waters just off the coast in one of the driest parts of Crete but also very near the VIP holiday resort Elounda.
The island and its history have come into prominence as they were featured in several films and books, the latest being a historical novel (“The Island”) by Victoria Hislop, which was made into a Greek TV series.
Spinalonga was not always an island. According to Venetian cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli, Venetians blew up what lay between it and the Kolokytha peninsula and turned it into an offshore fortress. It is still beautifully preserved from an architectural perspective with its battlements and guard towers almost intact.
Its name is still synonymous with the leper colony set up between 1903 and 1957, though it has by now shed all its negative connotations and has become a famous tourism destination.
In fact, it is one of the most popular sites of historical interest and many tourists visit the island wandering around its streets.