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.