peeks at the world through my lens

The Leper Colony of Spinalonga


Spialonga (Kalydon) is a Greek island in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete.  The island has a long and turbulent history given its strategic location protecting the waters around the ancient city of Olous (Elounda), one of the most important towns on Crete between 3000-900 BC. In the 16th century the Venetians built the first bastion-type fortress on Spinalonga to protect the entranceway of the port of Olous. The fortress was key in helping the Venetians defend against the attacks of the Turks led by Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha, also know as the pirate Barbarossa. The island later fell to the Ottoman Turks, who held the island until 1903, after Crete won its independence

In  1903 a leper colony was established on the island. Cretans with leprosy were then rounded up from the caves where they had been forced to take refuge and sent to Spinalonga, where they received medical care, food, and shelter.  The leper colony was maintained for approximately 50 years, until soon after a cure for leprosy was discovered  in 1948 . The last of the lepers left the island in 1957. Approximately 400 people inhabited the colony during its era as a leper colony.


4 responses

  1. A fortress at 3000BC! Wow that’s the time of the great pyramids of Egypt!

    December 12, 2016 at 4:37 am

    • Damn, you’r right! Looking back now I see I misremembered/misread the history. Seems like the 3000 BC came from the adjacent city Olous (Elounda) which Spinalonga protected, which was one of the most important towns on Crete between 3000-900 BC. First fortress was built in the 16th century by the Venetians. Good eye and thanks! I thought that sounded a bit suspect, and didn’t remember seeing any structures older then Venetian.

      December 12, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      • No worries! Don’t take it as criticism we hope. Just watching out for each other. But coming back the island, it is true that the Minoans were contemporaries of Egypt! So it might not be far apart.

        December 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm

  2. Nice pic, very interesting history

    December 12, 2016 at 4:42 am

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