31 August 2008

The Island of Spinalonga, Greece

Coordinates: 35° 16' 20" N, 25° 44' 55" E. Find With Google Earth.

The Island of Spinalonga from above

The island of Spinalonga (official name: Kalidon) is located at the eastern section of Crete, near the town of Elounda. The name of the island, Spinalonga, is Venetian, meaning "long thorn", and has roots in the period of Venetian occupation.

The Island of Spinalonga

The Spinalonga fortress was built by the Venetians in XVIth century. In 1579, the General Previsor of Crete Luca Michiel put the foundation stone of the fortifications. Following the Turkish occupation of Crete in 1669, only the fortresses of Gramvousa , Souda and Spinalonga remained in Venetian hands. The Venetians kept control of the island until the Ottoman Empire took possession of it in 1715.

The Spinalonga Fortress

The island was subsequently used as a leper colony, from 1903 to 1957. It is notable for being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe.

Today, the unoccupied island is one of the main tourist attractions in Crete. In addition to the abandoned leper colony and the fortress, Spinalonga is known for its small pebble beaches. The island can easily be accessed from Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. Tourist boats depart from both towns on a daily basis. Learn more...

1 comment:

Stefos said...

Very interesting post about Spinalonga. I have to say that living in Elounda you sort of get used to the little Island. But it does have so much history. As I wrote on my site:
The island of Spinalonga (Kalidon) has captured the imagination of so many over it's long history. From the depths of the past to the present day people, artists, musicians and authors have imagined and wrote about this island. One of the most visited tourist attraction on Crete, thousands of visitors every year walk along the narrow streets through the village on Spinalonga. Actually the name Spinalonga is Venetian, meaning "Long Thorn" the official name is Kalidon, but so well known as its former name Spinalonga not even the sign posts and the boats that take you to the the island will call it anything but by its Venetian name. The Venetians called it Spinalonga after a small island near Venice called the same. This Venetian island has now been renamed Giudecca.