Sunday, 2 July 2017

Mosaic Monday # 47 "The Island" - Spinalonga, Crete.

I don't know if you have read the novel "The Island" by Victoria Hislop?
An international bestseller which tells the story of Spinalonga, an island off the coast of Crete, the leper colony created there in 1903 and the lives of the people banished to inhabit it's rocky shores until 1957 when the last people left the island.

I read the book several years ago and had always hoped to visit Spinalonga myself one day. During our recent to trip to Crete I was able to tick that box on my wish list and what an amazing place "The Island" is.

We took a small ferry boat across from the town of Plaka which is how the lepers were transported to their new lives.

I imagine the scenery looked very similar then as it did on the morning we made the trip.
After arriving on the island the lepers were led through a short tunnel under the Venetian fort into the main street of the colony. This is the view they would have seen as they came out into the sunshine.

Many of the buildings erected by the Venetians and later the Turks would have been still standing although they made for very rough accommodation and were quite inhospitable.

Can you imagine how it must have felt to be able to see the mainland through this tiny window of your house, which was part of the Fort wall, knowing that you would never leave Spinalonga?


Repairs would have to be made by the lepers themselves with supplies brought over from Plaka or Elounda on the mainland.

A Hospital, a Dormitory, a Church  and  several shops were built to make life better for those living on Spinalonga.

The large concrete block on the left is the Dormitory, the Hospital is top right in the photograph above.

the Church has been restored by the Archaeological Service

The history of Spinalonga goes back centuries and I couldn't even begin to scratch the surface if I tried to tell you it's stories.

So please allow me to share some of the dozens of photographs taken during our visit, some of the information boards displayed in the restored part of the leper village and a link to an excellent website which you can visit if you would like to know more about Spinalonga.


  1. Hi Maggie!
    I never read the book about Spinalonga but I did read the book "Damian the Leper," the story of a Catholic priest who worked with lepers in Hawaii.What a hard and sad life the lepers had! The only way society knew how to deal with them was isolating them like this in remote places like Spinalonga. It was interesting to see your photos of this island. How fortunate that there is now a cure for leprosy!

  2. This is fascinating, Maggie. I've not read the book about Spinalonga, but I'd like to. What a dreadful disease that was not understood and caused such heartaches for families. It's a picturesque setting, but very sad to be isolated there for life.

    There are two islands just off of Victoria that were leper colonies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of them was for Chinese immigrants and the other for Caucasians. Even in disease there was segregation.
    I'll agree with Pat in being thankful that there is cure for leprosy now.

  3. Thank you Maggie for another information and photo filled visit. Spinalonga - and then two readers added information of other Leper colonies. Thank you for your 47th Mosaic Monday. I do have mosaics in my post but clicked on my Canada's 150th Birthday picture instead of a mosaic (sorry).

  4. Interesting interesting story. I didn't know about that area. I remember reading and learning in school about the Leper Colony on a Hawaiian Island and Father Damian who cared for them

  5. thank you so much for sharing this. There are so many interesting places in Europe which I would like to visit. Happy travels.

  6. What an incredible place you have taken us to this week Maggie. I have known my entire adult life that the inflicted Lepers were moved away to some isolated village, but never realized it was to an island. Bless the spirits of each of them, for they never asked for such a disease to fall upon them. What a tragedy for each of them and yet I see extreme beauty surrounding them on this tiny island. Looking at it today as you have shared certainly gave me pause to think of them once again. Thank you Maggie~

  7. Wow, Maggie! How fascinating! I'm going to read that book.
    Thank you for the wonderful tour.

  8. Fascinating post. I did not know about Spinalonga, but did know about the lepers in Hawaii. A tick off your bucket list -- good for you! Happy Monday!

  9. It is hard to believe that lepers still lived at Spinalonga up to the 1950's. Your pictures are magnificent.

  10. Wonderful shots, Maggie. Hislop's book was fantastic and a very good TV series adaptation of it was made by Greek TV, with on location shooting right there on the island.
    Thanks for hosting.

  11. Nice to meet you, Maggie. I linked up my post for the first time. The beauty of this historical island surrounded by the impressive blueness of the sea doesn’t look containing such a tragedy of the 20th century. I thought of the lepers confined in the island throughout life. I have read leprosy patients were confined at remote sanitariums with little consideration for their basic human rights in my country. Thank you for this photo tour and information.


  12. Great photos Maggie. Many of my book blogger friends have praised Hislop's The Island but I have not yet read it. I did not know until this spring that we had a leper island on the Finnish coast too. An island called Seili. When there were no more lepers the island was utilized for a 'mental hospital', mostly for females. There is a touching newly released Finnish novel on Amanda, a wild girl that got the diagnosis 'epileptic menstrual insanity' and was shut on the island at 28 years, for the rest of her life. The novel is based on a true story and this happened in the early 1900. So sad.

  13. Maggie you do a great job of making us all want to visit Crete, even given the sadness of those who were isolated on this island. You are bringing history alive and I had a bit of a shock to realise this was still going on not that long before I was born! That water is an amazing blue and the mainland not that far away, I wonder how many were temped to swim across?
    Thank you for hosting Mosaic Monday.
    Wren x

  14. I remember reading about this island years ago but haven't seen photos. Thanks for sharing. It's so important to learn about history and I'm glad there were drugs developed to help some of them. Happy MM! Hugs, Diane

  15. Hi Maggie,

    Your words and pictures about the leper colony of Spinalonga was a delight to read, despite the sad and tragic subject matter. Brought to international attention by Victoria Hislop's book and the Greek miniseries that followed it, (which you should definitely see, if you haven't already), the history and stories of the people who inhabited the island really made an impression on this resident of Crete, who has swum in its crystalline waters for over 25 years.

    Thank you for this wonderful introduction to one of Crete's many important stories and sites.

    Have a lovely week,

  16. Dearest Maggie,
    you always share such amazing, stunning shots, I'm sincerely grateful to you for posting this Beauty !

    Wishing you a most lovely remainder of your week,
    I'm sending blessings across the many miles

    XOXO Dany

  17. incredible chapter of history Maggie. Pretty much all my life I've known about Father Damien's leper colony on one of the Hawaiian islands (molokai? maybe).... but never stopped to think there must have been others. i've heard that when they closed that one, some of the people who'd been there all their lives didn't choose to leave.

    Your pictures evoke so many emotions -- as a person with itchy feet, I can't imagine looking out and not being able to leave .... the whole thing (wherever in the world) seems like such a sad chapter. But I loved reading about it here. Somehow these days, it gives me hope to know the world has survived sad chapters in history before and triumphed over ignorance. Maybe that will happen again.

    Thank you so much for hosting.

  18. How beautiful it is! What wonderful photos of a wonderful place!

  19. Maggie, thanks for sharing this island with us. I found it very interesting and your photos well composed. There is just great light there. Have a great week. Sylvia D.

  20. I've not read the novel but once again you send us to a fascinating island and shower us with gorgeous photos (and all that blue!) I confess, I love each and every one!

  21. This was fascinating! Thank you for all the photos and the post. :) Kit

  22. Hi Maggie! I read the book and then had to come over again and look at your photos. Fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing and recommending the book!


Thanks for stopping by, your visit just made my day!