The Island Spinalonga

Just off the coast of Crete, North of Agios Nicolaos lays the historical island of Spinalonga. As small as it is and as magnificent and and as compelling is its long history, the residents of this once ancient city of Olous built a castle to protect the residents of the Bay of Olous. The bay was already of huge significance to the people living in the surrounding area at the time.

Centuries later during the 13th century the Venetians built the impressive Fortezza Spinalonga on the ruins of this castle. This fort was part of a range of mighty fortifications which the Venetians built along the Cretan coast.

The strategically located Crete was the pearl in the crown of the mighty Venicians, but also a wanted prey for others. Like the Ottomans which had laid their eyes on it. They successfully conquered Crete at the end of the 17th century.

After the Turkish invasion Fort Spinalonga fell into the hands of the Turks after a siege of three months.

During the subsequent centuries Turkish families lived there between the safety of the walls of the old Fort and the thriving market. At the end of the 19th century Crete was finally liberated from the Turkish occupation. The new established Cretan Parliament made all kinds of plans to improve the lives of the Cretan residents. During this time Crete had become independent. They also wanted to do something to improve the lives of the lepers of Crete which until then had wandered around in the worse of places and left completely to their own devises with no help from anyone. Because of that the Parliament decided in 1903 to found a leper colony where all the Cretan lepers would be cared for. This colony would be settled on the isle Spinalonga.