Spinalonga is a small island near Elounda in eastern Crete. Spinalonga has become known as the island of lepers, since they were isolated here from the rest of Crete and the rest of Greece until 1957. Today, Spinalonga is visited every summer by thousands of tourists that take the connecting boats from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and Plaka to tour its ruined buildings. According to data from the Summer of 2009 Spinalonga received 1200-1500 visitors daily and is considered the most visited archaeological site in Crete after Knossos.
The name of this city is connected to the origin of the name "Spinalonga" which, according to one report, came about in the 13th century by the Venetian conquerors, who were not familiar with the Greek language and paraphrased it to "the Olounda' from ‘Spinalonte’ (13th century) and later on to Spinalonga. In Latin "spina lunga" (pronunciation: Spina Lungi) means "long thorn". Ιn 1905 the island was used as a leper colony where all the lepers of Crete were taken there for isolation. Initially they were kept in ‘Meskinia’ outside Heraklion but the public were concerned about an infection outbreak so the lepers were moved to the Island. The buildings on the island were built by the lepers themselves, who demolished the Venetian Fortress and used the rocks to build their houses.