Spinalonga is a small island located at the entrance of Elounda lagoon and north of the Gulf of Mirabello. It has an area of 85 acres and its maximum height is 53 meters.
The history of the island still inspires awe. It has been a Venetian fortress, a castle colony, a rebel refuge, a place of exile for lepers, a communication link with Cairo during the Second World War. The island has been well fortified by the Venetians during their presence in Crete. From structural and architectural point of view and from an aesthetic view of the whole landscape, the island still retains an unsurpassed beauty.
Its original name was Calydon, but the Venetians named it Spinalonga from the Venetian word Spina-Longa, which means long thorn. According to a second weaker interpretation, Spinalonga derives its name by paraphrasing "Stin Elounda”, meaning “In Elounda”. Another, version tells that the island got its name from a beautiful woman named Longa that was living in the fort.
Take the boat from Plaka to Spinalonga Spinalonga Island
The settlement of Plaka belongs to Vrouchas village of Agios Nikolaos, located 16 km. north of Lasithi. This place was almost unknown the previous years. The successful best seller novel by Victoria Hislop “The Island”, as well as the homonymous TV series that was filmed there, revealed the beauty Plaka! A picturesque neighborhood with amazing restaurants, very friendly people and a sense from bygone decades diffusing into the atmosphere.
On your trip there you will see many locals and foreign strolling and eating fresh fish. The entire Plaka is the old buildings in the promenade over the sea and the central street which bear witness to the past of the region. From the beautiful port of Plaka, you can take one of the small boats transporting visitors to Spinalonga Island every 30 minutes during the summer months.
Spinalonga Island, the Island of the living dead!
Spinalonga Island is a small arid and barren rocky island of 85 acres at the natural harbor of Elounda, Lasithi Crete. Due to its strategic position was fortified and acquired different roles and uses over the centuries. Even the reference to the name of the island was taboo for many years as it was identified with the pain and suffering of Lepers living there, isolated from the local community. In spite of the adversities, these people were able to develop a society with its own rules and values.
When you reach Spinalonga Island, you enter the castle from the entrance with an iron “waterfall” and you need about 1 hour to make the tour of the island on foot. You can wander the cobbled streets searching for the remains of the marvelous civilization that the inhabitants had developed through nothing. The ruins of the castle, the wall, the Ottoman market, the houses, the hospital and the school are indicative of how people lived at that time.
The supernatural inner strength of those people who despite their illness and social marginalization, continued to work, to be educated and to live with dignity until 1957. Years of abandonment and devastation followed when the last patient left, as the locals tried to erase from their memory everything that happened there.
In 1970 the island was declared as a protected archaeological site. The excavations started, the buildings were demolished and the maintenance works on the walls begun. Today, Spinalonga is the third most visited archaeological site in the country after Acropolis and Knossos, with thousands of visitors from around the world to pay tribute to the greatness of the human soul.
Enjoy a delicious Cretan meal in Plaka,
after your trip to Spinalonga Island!
If you are a fan of seafood you can visit the taverns “Palirroia” , “Captain Nicholas” or “Spinalonga“. Fresh fish and shellfish are waiting for an unprecedented culinary journey! If you’re looking for something different, you can visit “Charoupia” to taste amazing Smyrna fagot, or the “tavern of Mrs. Mary”, the oldest in Plaka, for rabbit stew. Delicious meat dishes, you can find in “Ladolemono“. If you simply want to relax, there is no more appropriate choice than the traditional cafe “Pefko” where you can drink ouzo, raki and tsipouro accompanied with delicious fresh octopus.
Go for a swim in Kolokytha beach of Elounda
From Spinalonga you can take the boat that goes to the port of Elounda. The trip includes a tour of the peninsula “Kolokytha” (Pumpkin). The beautiful “Kolkytha” beach with its turquoise water and white sand composes a heaven and exotic scenery. On the beach there are trees to relax under the shade.