In 1578 the Venetianse built on Spinalonga an impregnable sea fortress, one of the most important in the Mediterranean basin.Spinalonga,remained in Venetian hands even after the rest of Crete fell to the Ottomans in the Cretan War (1645–1669) and until 1715, when they fell to the Ottomans during the last Ottoman–Venetian War.This forts defended Venetian trade routes and many Christians found refuge in these fortresses to escape persecution from the Ottoman Turks. After Greek independence in 1832 , the island was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. It is notable for being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. The last inhabitant, a priest, left the island in 1962. This was to maintain the religious tradition of the Greek Orthodox church, in which a buried person has to be commemorated at following intervals of 40 days; 6 months; 1 year; 3 years; and 5 years, after their death.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography