Home World The abandoned Greek island frozen in time slowly being reclaimed by nature

The abandoned Greek island frozen in time slowly being reclaimed by nature


The Greek Islands. Could there be a more idyllic place for a break? Whether you’re backpacking, island-hopping, or staying put and kicking back in the sun, the islands are all-but guaranteed holiday hit.

There are of course the main islands that draw the largest numbers of tourists: Crete, Rhodes, Santorini and Mykonos, to name but four. 

After that there are less touristy spots, like Paxos, Sifnos, and¬†Kythira. These islands aren’t dominated by throngs of picture-taking tourists, booking all the restaurant tables and crowding the streets. They operate a slower place and offer a rustic charm that the bigger islands struggle to match.

However, some islands have no tourists at all. In fact, one hasn’t got any inhabitants whatsoever. Spinalonga Island.

Spinalonga Island wasn’t always desolate and empty. It was once home to Venetian forts designed to keep out the Ottoman’s from the late 16th century.

However, most recently, it was used as a leper colony. From 1903 to 1957 lepers would be sent to island and would enter it through a gate called ‘Dante’s Gate’. It is said that the entrance was named this as the patients didn’t know what would happen to them once they arrived on the island.

But, once on the island, the lepers received social security payments as well as food, water and medical attention. Prior to that, lepers would socially isolate and have to live in caves, away from everyday Greeks.

When the leper colony was dissolved, the island became completely barren. However the structures used to house people remain.

Now, tourists are taken to the island from various towns in Crete every single day. Given there are no accomodation facilities, the tours only last a few hours.

Visitors have glowed about the island on Tripadvisor, with one saying: “Amazing picturesque island to visit, well worth going with a guide as there’s a lot of information/history to absorb.”

Another said: “Very interesting history. Well worth the visit. Go early in the morning before the tourists start to arrive and it gets to hot”.

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