Spinalonga – An island full of history

Spinalonga-Village Hero-Flickr

It is very rare that such a small island, like Spinalonga, carries so much history on it, so much pain, such a heavy name. This island, situated in the east of Crete, outside Elounda, known mainly as a leper colony, was at some point joined to the main island of Crete and the Kolokytha peninsula, but took its form in 1526 when the Venetians dug a canal to separate it from the land. It was used as a fort for many centuries until, in 1903, it started to be used to exile the lepers and keep them away from the general population. Of course, that’s just one version of its story, since the other one says that the island was once named Kalydon and that it had always been a fort, since it was at the entrance of the bay harbor, so it had to protect the residents from invaders. The years it spent as a fort, however, aren’t what has made the island a popular destination these past few decades and, especially, the past few years. The visitors arrive on the island to know first hand the immeasurable pain of those people who were sent there to stay away from the healthy ones. Spinalonga was always counted among the most interesting parts of Crete, but since Victoria Hislop wrote The Island, that dramatizes its history, and also since the television series of the same name, travelers have sought more and more to visit the island in order to see where these imaginary, yet so close to the truth, stories took place. In order to get to Spinalonga you’ll have to have your own boat or catch the ferry from Elounda, Plaka, or even Aghios Nikolaos, though the latter is a bit farther away and the tickets slightly more expensive. The ferry will take you to the island within a few minutes and, sometimes, it will also go around the Kolokytha peninsula. There are many versions about the origins of the name Spinalonga. Others say that it comes from the Greek phrase “Στην Ολούντα” that the Venetians couldn’t pronounce properly and others that it comes from the Latin phrase for long thorn. Nothing has been confirmed and even the name Kalydon is questionable. Spinalonga belongs among the monuments or sights that have a difficult history, that you cannot enjoy or admire, where a visit is like a recognition of the vicious aspects of mankind. Maybe it is a necessary change of pace for the visitors of Crete. AKS Hotels Crete – AKS Minoa Palace – AKS Annabell Beach Resort