Spinalonga is a tiny island on the north of Elounda, in Lassithi Crete. Its ancient name was “Kalydon”, but after being conquered by the Venetians it was given the Latin name “Spina lunga”, which means “long thorn”. This is where the island took its name from. It was well fortified by the Venetians and its beautiful architecture and esthetics are wonderfully preserved up until today.
A Venetian cartographer, Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, claimed that Spinalonga hadn’t always been an island, but it was naturally connected with the neighboring peninsula “Kolokytha”. In 1526 the Venetians destroyed part of the peninsula and created the island.
In 1903, the island is turned into a leper’s island and all the lepers of Crete are transferred there. After Crete being united with the rest of Greece in 1913, Spinalonga became an international leper’s hospital. It eventually closed in 1957, with no patients left, as they were treated and cured with antibiotics.
Spinalonga is definitely worth a visit, both for its natural beauty and its long history.