The islet of Spinalonga in Lassithi Crete: The islet of Spinalonga is located in the north-eastern side of Crete, between the town of Elounda and the Gulf of Mirabello. Its name is Italian and means long thorn. In Greek, its official name is Kalidon islet. Its history begins in 1579, when the Venetians built a fortress on the islet to protect their occupations in Crete and their fleet, settled in the harbor of Elounda, from the Turkish invasions.
This islet was also a refuge for Christians in times of war since the high walls that reach the seaside could prevent any disembarkation. In 1715, however, the Turks managed to defeat the Venetians and occupy Spinalonga. The island remained in their possession until 1905, when Crete won her freedom. After that, the island was used as a leper colony. All lepers of Crete, who were previously living in caves, away from civilization, were now taken to Spinalonga, where food and medical care was provided to them.
In 1957, though, the drugs to cure this disease were finally found and the lepers were gradually abandoning Spinalonga. The last inhabitant was a priest, who left in 1962. In our days, this islet has turned into a popular tourist attraction. It is reachable from Elounda and Agios Nikolaos by boat. It takes only 15 minutes to go there from Elounda and about an hour from Agios Nikolaos. Have also in mind that the islet is inhabited and there are no accommodation options. Visitors take only a daily tour and stay on Spinalonga just for a few hours.