Elounda is a small fishing village on the Island of Crete, just a few miles from the capital city of Heraklion. While the small town feel is a beautiful destination on it's own thanks to the lovely beaches and quaint restaurants, it is most popular because of it's proximity to the former leper colony of Spinalonga.
If you are in Elounda, you must make the trip to the highly romanticized island of Spinalonga. It was at various times under Venetian and then Arab rule, but is most known for it's use in the 20th century as a leper colony. In operation as late at 1957, it was one of the last operating leper colonies in all of Europe. The very last resident of the island was a priest, who only left in the year 1962.
The colony itself was quite controversial. In many ways, the island was a blessing, as residents received water, food, medical attention, and even social security. This was a huge advancement from merely living in caves on the fringes of society. However, entering the island though 'Dante's Gate' was like entering hell, as their future was unknown and of course already decided for them. From Elounda, the island of Spinaloga can be reached in about 15 minutes, and it is today a great place to spend a few hours and enjoy the pebble beaches.
The city of Elounda itself also offers many great ways to spend your time. The fishing village boasts many beautiful restaurants along the waterfront, which cater to a very international crowd thanks to the influx of visitors year-round. There are also plenty of great shops, including a well-known bookstores that offers fantastic literature about the history of the surrounding areas. As the sun goes down, pop into one of the bars or nightclubs in Elounda, and stay in one of the fabulous hotels.
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