The island

Spinalonga , the island and history and leprocy

Prince George suceeded in getting the cretan Republic to proclaim a
resolution.It was decided to make Spinalonga into a LEPER
COLONY.The Turks were told that oon Spinalonga all the lepers of Crete
(and soon all Greece ) were to be concetrated ,and there they would
spend the rest of their lives.That was the end of the Turkish
«occupation» of spinalonga.In the same year 1903 the last Turks
abandoned the Castle .

The disease LEPROCY was one of the
most feared diseases of ancients times. It was believed that leprocy
was the sign of impurity, and people kept a distance from anyone who
had the disease .Up to 1903 lepers where living into caves in Heraklio.
As you probably know the disease causes open wounds on the
body, especially on hands and legs .Often it causes the entire loss
of fingers and toes.In those days leprosy often gave large frightening
wounds in the face resulting sometimes the loss of nose and ears . The
tales of the human martyrdom of this disease must be endless.
sometimes it hit a child ,sometimes a young boy or girl . when they
caught the infection it could last two to thirty years before the
wounds were openly seen , and up to our times the disease is still
fought with difficulty if not taken under treatment very early.

A norwecian physician by the name of
ARMAUER HANSEN was studying leprosy for many years , and marked his
name is scientific when in 1873 he found the leper bacterium or
bacillus. Through the work of Armauer Hansen the world got to know
that leprosy is contagious through direct contact between a sick
person and a healthy one .That is the open wound of a leper patient
must be in intimate contact with a fresh wound , scar or scratch of
another person to cause infection.During the fifty four years of the
colony , roughly faur hundred people lived there , some of them evern
born on spinalonga- many , many died there .I have documents from this
period in my office , with names and personal data written down :

There is mentioned Maria vlakou from
the Peloponese , thirty two years old , died 1938.there is Angela
Anngirou from Thessalonica , died 1942 forty years old.Yannis Sarin
from Edesa died 1928 eighteen year old and so on …How could they
live in this colony, how miserable were their deaths . You may ask what kind of life they had
. Well when you visit this island you will
see where we dissembark at the big stone entrance to the Street
of Pain. you will be walking walking along the lines of shops and
small houses which were situated at the bottom of the hills , along
the coastline and near the main gate . At certain times during the day
there must have been an atmosphere of busy life – even there, with
people coming and going, chatting and may be laughing , not all, of
course , being deadly ill. some of the lepers were married to each
other , and lived together in small apartments , having a a garden
outside to tend. Perhaps they had some hens, a dog or cats.

People of this district usually called
Spinalonga «The Quiet Island» thinking both of the
peacefullness during the war when Spinalonga was like another world ,
and of the quiet endurance of personal pain.

The priests did however , sometimes
perform happier services than burrials. It happened that lepers
,like other people, fell in love with each other and got married .
during the years of the Leper colony twenty babies were born on
Spinalonga.

Are you interested on visting Spinalonga Island?
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13 σχόλια στο The island

  1. Eliza Normann

    Hello! I have just finished reading Victoria Hislop’s book «The Island» about Spinalonga and the life of the lepers there. It is a fantastic book, and I would love to visit the island one day.

  2. Loz Lozie

    Visited this interesting but sad island many years ago, I am now writing a travel book for teenagers and will be including the island in my book.
    i can only say how happy i am that times have changed so much for the better.

  3. Tony Tarn

    I also have visited spinalonga shortly as it had been closed as a leper colony, and was so moved by the conditions they had to endear throughout there sad and miserable lives. We are al so lucky that this disease as almost been eradicated from this planet.

  4. Lesley

    I am reading it at the moment – couldn’t believe how life was out there. I agree that we don’t know how lucky we are. It is really fantastic that even just after the 2nd world war they had managed to find something very near to a cure for this terrible disease. Unfortunately, like tuberculosis, if we don’t keep on top of it we will never get rid of it.

  5. Laura

    I have also just finished Victoria Hislops excellent book and I can’t stop thinking about the Island and the people that once lived there.. So many must have experienced extreme heartache of losing loved ones just like those in the story. It makes me cry at the thought! I am now determined to visit Spinalonga and Plaka and I can’t wait :-)

  6. garry kitt

    My father was stationed on Crete during the war and on visiting Crete myself many years ago decided to visit Spinalonga.Reading the book by Victoria Hislop » The Island» brought it all back .There were even bones visible in some of the graves.

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