The most famous island on Crete, this rock stronghold and fortress is located on the north-west entrance of The Bay of Elounda. The fortress was built during Venetian times using building material from an original ancient fortress.
It was founded in 1579 by the Venetian benefactor Luca Michiel, as shown by the nscription on the lintel over the main entrance. It was part of the organization of the defense of Crete, particularly against the expansion of the Turks and the incursions of pirates.
When the Venetians were defeated and surrendered the remainder of Crete to the Turks, Spinalonga alone remained outside of their control. From 1669 until 1715, it was a refuge for Venetians, Hainidons and escapees.
Subsequently until 1903, it was inhabited almost exclusively by Muslims and when these last residents left, the place became a leper colony by order of the Greek government.
This operation was concluded in 1957, and from then on it has remained uninhabited at the mercy of time until recently, when restoration of its buildings has commenced. The public buildings, the houses and the surrounding wall which are being restored, revitalize the history of the island and celebrate the magnificent beauty of the fortress, the island itself and the entire landscape.