|The Greek Islands|
|Crete real estate|
|Crete car cental|
|Crete winter rentals|
|Map of Crete|
|More maps of Crete|
|Agia Sophia 2|
|Agios Georgios (w)|
|Agios Georgios (e)|
|Agios Ioannis cave|
|Kalami (south east)|
|Livadia Beach  |
|Sweet Water Beach|
|Timpaki / Timbaki|
|The island of Spinalonga near Crete|
The Venetians built a big fortress on this tiny island close to the town of Agios Nikolaos (in Crete). Here and in the villages of Elounda and Plaka you can find boats that visit the island of Spinalonga for a day trip. It takes about an hour to walk around the entire island. Spinalonga is quite impressive, especially when you walk past the large buildings that used to be the hospital and you realise what has happened here only last century. The fortress and the rest of the buildings are all in pretty good shape (there's also a renovation going on). On the tower of the fortress you see the Venetan lion of St Mark carved in a stone. Between 1903 and 1957 is was turned into a leper colony. The Turkish houses on the island were adapted by the lepers with whatever they could find. Within the walls you will find the houses and the graves of the people that lived there and died there. The graves are small, about one metre by one metre, because after amputations not much was left of the inhabitants. On the island there are also two churches, the Church of St. Panthaleon from 1709, with a memorial commemorating the leprosy patients, and the Saint George Church dating from 1661.
Spinalonga is an island off the coast of Crete, near Elounda and Agios Nikolaos. It is a connected to the mainland with a dam. The island Kalidonia, with its Venetian fortress, is part of Spinalonga. The fortress, where also once a leprosy colony was established, is a major tourist attraction in Crete. Kalidonia lies on the northernmost tip of Spinalonga, a few tens of meters separated from the peninsula.
Spinalonga has not always been an island. On the shallow seabed between Elounda and Spina Longa archaeologists have found remnants of the ancient Greek city Olous.
|The island Kalidonia|
Kalidonia is an island just before the east coast of Crete in the Bay of Elounda. It has a length of 500 meters and the maximum width measures 200 meters. It is often referred to as Spinalonga, but that is actually a bigger peninsula to which Kalidonia belongs. Kalidonia is located on the northernmost tip of Spinalonga, and is separated from the mainland by a hundred meters of water.
On the island is a Venetian fortress that was built in 1579. It has the reputation of being unconquerable. This story has its roots in the reality. When the Turks in 1670 conquered the mainland of Crete, Kalidonia still remained in the hands of the Venetians for 45 years. They gave the island only to the Turks in 1715, after an agreement was made with the Venetians for a free retreat. The Turks did not keep their agreement and killed all the men of Kalidonia and the rest of the people on the island were sold as slaves. When the mainland of Crete was no longer under Turkish influence, Kalidonia remained in Turkish hands. The Greeks solved this by turning Kalidonia into a leper colony, after which the Turks left the island.
On the foundations of the fortress a village was constructed in that in the early 20th century was inhabited by lepers. To prevent the disease in Crete and in other parts of Greece the sick were banned to the island. In the heyday around 2000 patients stayed on the island on the island. In 1957, the last leprosy patient was transferred to a hospital and the island became uninhabited.
Kalidonia is now a tourist attraction with a dubious past. Boats to Kalidonia depart regularly from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and Plaka. The trips from Agios Nikolaos are sometimes combined with a stop and a barbecue on the beach of Kolokytha on the Spinalonga peninsula. At this beach are the remains of the old ancient city Olous (pillars and remnants of buildings). From Plaka, the crossing takes only 5 minutes. In two different locations in the village a boat departs every half hour to the island with the Venetian fortress, and if you want to go back you can hop on every boat that goes to Plaka. The tickets cost 8 euros each in 2014. Also on the island you have to pay a small entrance fee.