Discover Spinalonga Island: A Historical Gem in Crete

Discover Spinalonga Island: A Historical Gem in Crete

A Tapestry of History
Spinalonga Island has a multifaceted history that continues to awe visitors. It was once a Venetian fortress, a castle colony, a refuge for rebels, a place of exile for lepers, and a vital communication link with Cairo during World War II. The island's Venetian fortifications, structural architecture, and breath-taking landscapes have preserved an unrivalled beauty that transports visitors to another era.

Origins of the Name
While originally named Calydon, Spinalonga Island acquired its current name from the Venetian term "Spina-Longa", meaning "long thorn". This name symbolizes the island's elongated shape and its significance as a defensive stronghold. Another interpretation suggests that Spinalonga derives its name from the phrase "Stin Elounda", meaning "In Elounda". Yet another version of the story narrates the island being named after a beautiful woman named Longa who once resided within its fortifications.


  1. Guided Tours
    Consider joining a guided tour to gain in-depth knowledge about the island's history and significance. Knowledgeable guides will enrich your experience by sharing captivating stories and insights.
  2. Explore the Fortress
    Wander through the well-preserved Venetian fortress and immerse yourself in the island's rich past. Take your time to appreciate the architectural details and imagine the lives of the fortress’ inhabitants.
  3. Visit the Leprosy Colony
    Learn about the poignant chapter in Spinalonga's history as a leper colony. Explore the remnants of the colony's buildings and gain a deeper understanding that era.

Fun Facts

  • Diverse Historical Significance
    Spinalonga Island's history spans centuries and includes Venetian rule, resistance against invaders, and its role as a sanctuary for lepers. Each chapter adds to the island's allure and fascination.
  • Travel to Spinalonga
    Rent a car and travel to Agios Nikolaos for about an hour from Heraklion (66.8 km). From there, you’ll need to travel to the island with a boat for about 20 minutes.
  • The Island by Victoria Hislop
    Spinalonga is the inspiration and the centre point of Victoria Hislop’s award-winning book. This page turner touches on the difficulties of the island’s habitants and the various short comings in its history.

Spinalonga Island beckons you to journey through time, unearthing the layers of its captivating history. Immerse yourself in the island's Venetian fortress, explore the remnants of the leprosy colony, and embrace the breath-taking views that surround you. As you delve into the stories, Spinalonga Island will leave an indelible mark on your memory. Visit this historical gem and be transported to a world of ancient fortresses, resilient communities, and extraordinary tales of human resilience.

back to top uses Cookies!

We use cookies to offer you a personalized browsing experience. Click on the "Accept All" button and help us tailor our suggestions exclusively to the content you are interested in. Alternatively click on what you want and click "Accept Selected"!