Sunday, 7 April 2019

Spinalonga

Spinalonga is a small island located in north-eastern Crete. The Venetians built a formidable fortress on the island in 1579 to enable them to control the approaches to the Gulf of Mirabello. Following the 1669 Ottoman/Venetian war, Heraklion (Candia as it was known then) fell to the Turks, but the Venetians continued to hold Spinalonga. It wasn't until fifty years later in 1715 that they were finally forced to surrender the island to the Turks.
The boat for Spinalonga leaves the mainland at Elounda - you can sail around the island, or if you have plenty of time go ashore to explore.
Due to the islands remoteness it became a leper colony in 1903. You may know or have heard about the island if you have read Victoria Hislop's novel, The Island. Although the colony was cut off from everyone, they managed to create a community amongst themselves. Leprosy had long been feared since biblical times when lepers were treated as 'unclean'. The unsightly deformities which affected their faces and limbs were believed to be evidence of their sins. This belief lasted for centuries even until the early 20th century when it was still considered to be a highly contagious and incurable disease. It is in fact a mildly infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. Today we know that it doesn't spread easily and treatment is very effective.
The colony buildings are now just empty shells.
However, the Venetian fortifications appear to be mainly intact, and are impressive. 
Mainland Elounda was formally a peaceful fishing town, but is now one Greece's most luxurious destinations with the highest concentration of five star hotels and holiday homes after Santorini.

It would make an ideal destination for family holidays with it's beautiful beaches, warm sea, fishing, and boating. The island would be a perfect place for children to explore, and have adventures.

20 comments:

  1. It looks delightful. One of Doug's uncles was killed and is buried in Crete.

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  2. I am so enjoying my virtual holiday! Your wonderful descriptions and photos make it feel like I'm there. I can feel the warmth of the sun and that wonderful blue sea and sky ohhh to wade in the sea with the warm sun on my head! Summer seems sooo far away! Best, Jane x

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  3. Beautiful photos and interesting notes too. From leper colony to luxury holidays - quite a journey!

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  4. I found Greece very laid back to travel, it has been some time ago I was there but I have sweet memories. Your beautiful photos brings it all back in my mind!

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  5. Hello Rosemary, I would love to spend a day exploring Spinalonga. The fascination of ruins is endless, whether they are from 2000BC or 1900AD.
    --Jim

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  6. Rosemary, as soon as I saw your title today I immediately recalled that great book 'The Island' - I read it a few years ago - and it was an amazing story. Seeing your lovely photos of the place close up is thrilling. I actually had an extremely interesting seat mate on a flight last year whose work in the medical field was with leprosy - she shared so much in those few hours of travel and I enjoyed listening and learning.

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  7. Thank you for those wonderful photos, Rosemary! (And of course the text too). Britta (Google changed my icon or whatever it is called - I am Britta from Berlin)

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  8. Beautiful light and colour. Feels like a real holiday destination.

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  9. Beautiful views of the sea.
    Leprosy was once a dreadful thing to have I presume, so pleased we have come far in medicine.

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  10. I remember reading the Island and feeling very sad about how they were treated back then. It looks a lovely place in the shimmering sunshine. Very different today to then. B x

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  11. Another beautiful greek island , there are so many to visit and this one holds an interesting story and some impressive buildings !

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  12. Dearest Rosemary,
    Spinalonga has quite a history and above all, a very sad one in regard to those unfortunate victims of leprosy.
    Yes, indeed a disease from biblical times but unfortunately still adding thousands of victims every year and they still are being ostracized from society in most countries. Leprosy is even on the rise again here in the USA, because of many illegals crossing the border.
    Both of us have been very active in supporting leprosy sufferers and I got asked by the US Embassy Jakarta to come to Indonesia for speaking as an Advocate for ending the STIGMA of Leprosy: {My 6 Min Presentation The Truth About Leprosy for GPDLI, AtAmerica U.S. EMBASSY JAKARTA}
    It never is a glamorous task but I just cannot look the other way! Your Princess Diana did so much for them by making the media aware of this huge problem. Sadly she is not here with us anymore...
    Loved your photos!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  13. This would be a place I would love to visit! I've enjoyed your photos and learning more about it!

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  14. Beautiful pics! Love those homes on the mountainside!
    Enjoy your week...
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  15. Yes I read the book and have it and now will read it again. Your post with the story and the wonderful photos of the island caused this wish, thank you! :-)

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  16. Another fascinating post. Thank you. Crete is becoming more of an option every post I read! Idon't think I would care for Elounda as much - I am a bit wary of glamorous places for some reason and I did not warm to Santorini for that reason. But i guess one of the nice things about Crete is that it is large enough to have something for everyone.

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