Spinalonga island (Kalydon)

Spinalonga island is located in northeastern Crete, in Lasithi prefecture, at the entrance of Elounda Bay and the northeastern part of Mirabello Bay.

Its ancient Greek name was Kalydon (Kalydonia) but after the occupation by the Venetians is called Spinalonga. The island was first named “Stinelonde” (first mentioned in a Venetian document of 1381) after the Greek expression “stin Elounda” meaning “to Elounda”. They finally started calling the island Spinalonga (meaning “long thorn”), something more meaningful to them and they were probably inspired from a Venetian island with the same name (today Giudecca).

From 1903 to 1957 Spinalonga was used as leper colony. The lepers of Crete and later of the rest of Greece, where led there in order to isolate the patients from the healthy population, since there was no drug yet and the disease was considered highly contagious. For the locals Spinalonga is widely known as the island of the lepers, despites its great history.

After 1957 Spinalonga was abandoned for several decades. Today the island of Spinalonga is an archaeological site and a significant number of buildings have been restored. There are also become attempts to join the list of World Heritage of Unesco.

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