Spinalonga is a small island fortress and a Presqu'île located in Crete at the western entry of the Golfe of Mirabello vis-a-vis the town of Elounda, not far from Agios Nikolaos in the department of Lassithi.
The island is also called Kalydon, while the peninsula is called peninsula of Kolokithia.
Spinalonga comes from Italian spina longa “the long spine”. However if the Venetian ones called it thus, it is not because it resembles a long spine but because they adapted to their own language a significance with made up Greek “Stinelounda” with “Elounda” (sten-Elounda).
Small island fortress of Spinalonga (Kalydon)
In the east of the maritime village of Plaka, located at 5 km in the north of Elounda, just opposite the northern point of the peninsula, the rock small island of Spinalonga called is also Kalydon.
The Venetian construirent in 1579, on the ruins of a ancient Acropole, a powerful fortress intended to protect the port from Elounda. The high walls and the two circular bastions, on the top of the hill, made it possible artillery to order the entry of the port of Elounda.
This fortress, of which there remains of impressive vestiges, was one of the Fortified towns most important and of best defended of the Crete. It was one of only of all the Crete, with the fortresses of Souda (close to Caned the) and of Graboussa (in the North-West of Crete and Kastelli (Kissamou)), not to fall to the hands from the Turkish, when those conquered the Crete in 1669, after the seat from seat from Candie.
Throughout the 17th century, the fortress remained in Venetian hands and was a refuge for the Christians saving Turks. After having resisted nearly one half-century Turkish supremacy, and after ultimate a 3 month old seat, the Venetian , had finally to yield the fortified town to the Turks in 1715. The Turks thus settled there until the beginning of the 20th century, when in their turn, they were to drive out of Crete. And there, one decided to park there the people reached of the Lèpre in Crete.
The Leper-house, the last in Europe, was in the Venetian fort, restored by the Lépreux which lived there of 1903 with 1958. There was up to 300 - 400 alive in community, with the trade associations which one finds in any Greek village, of the hairdresser to the Pope. The last inhabitant, a priest, would have lived there until in 1962.
Today the island is uninhabited; it remains however a principal tourist site of the area. One can reach it, very easily, by boat starting from Agios Nikolaos (in 1:00 with 2:00), of Elounda (in 15mn) and of Plaka (in 5mn).
The seat of 1715
The rendering of Spinalonga to the Turks, on October 4th, 1715
In June 1715 the Turks, besieged the fortress of Spinalonga. After a Blocus three months during which all the food provisioning was exhausted, ordering it Venetian Zuan Francesco Giustiniani gave the fortress to Kapudan Pasha (Othoman Lord High Admiral).
Under the terms of the treaty of rendering, all the inhabitants, foreigners or Greeks, island were free is to leave the island with their business, or to remain there like subject of the Sultan. Guarantees were also given concerning the withdrawal without encumbers Venetian guard , and the right, moreover, of all the Christian remaining in the fortress to maintain a orthodoxe church “in order to adore their faith”.
a naval force of approximately 10 boats keeping the entry of the Gulf of Mirabello and cannonading the island.
With the northern point of the peninsula of Kolokytha, in the south of the small island (100 meters, 200 meters at most, to see the satellite sight for better realizing), the Turkish, unloaded:
- 5 guns of 50 books
- 2 guns of 30 books
- 2 mortars
- 2000 soldiers
Starting from Plaka and on the dimension, in the north of the small island (1 000 to 2000 meters) the Turkish, installed:
- 5 guns of 50 books
- 4000 soldiers
There be a Turkish attack against the entry of the small island fortress which failed. The number of victims was very heavy at the Othomans. One will off find more information in the work of Mr. Arakadaki The fortress Spinalonga flight 1 out of p 180 .
The destiny of the refugees
The treaty of rendering was observed with regard to the withdrawal of the Venetian , but the inhabitants of the island, who were refugees of Crete, under Othoman domination , were imprisoned and then sold, later, on the market, flourishing, of the slaves.
Thanks to the translation of the turcologist NR. Stavrinidis, documents coming from the files Turkish of Héraklion, the destinies of the prisoners tell: Thus we know that 120 men “adapted to row” and were sent to the imperial naval station, whereas 230 men “unable to row” and the 240 women and children were sold like slaves.
There are two entries with Spinalonga, one being the entry of leprous, a tunnel known under the name of door of Dante, the other being the initial door located opposite Plaka (that attacked by Turkish). This new practiced opening to summer due to the fact that the Lépreux did not know what could arrive to them once unloaded in the small island. However they received food, water, the medical attention and the social contributions. Previously, such approvals had been inalienable with leprous Crete, because they, most of the time, lived in the caves of the sector, far from civilization.
Peninsula of Spinalonga
The peninsula of Spinalonga is located in Crete at the east of the town of Elounda, beyond of old salt-water marshes and a narrow artificial channel spanned by a bridge.
It also called, peninsula of Spinalonga , peninsula of Kolokithia (the island of Kolokithia being next to this peninsula) and Chersonisos Spinalonga .
This long arid and uninhabited peninsula, was attached, formerly at the coast by a Isthme; the Isthmus of Poros, which was bored in 1897 by French sailors and which thus made an island of it.
At the time of the seat of the small island fortress of Spinalonga, the northern point was used by the Turkish, to bombard it.
Today it is connected to the dry land by a bridge. The peninsula is an protected area.
- Seen satellite of the small island of Kalidonia in the north of the Spinalonga peninsula on WikiMapia
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