Nowadays Crete’s most popular tourist attraction after the Minoan Palace of Knossos, Spinalonga has a long and not always bright history.

The islet, which is located in the Elounda Gulf in the Lasithi prefecture of northeastern Crete, served as a leper colony between 1903 and 1957 with its fortress becoming the home for many troubled souls of the time.

Following Victoria Hislop’s best selling novel ‘The Island’ published in 2005 which was later adapted into the highly popular TV series  ‘To Nisi’ by Mega Channel the islet again became an attraction. It even featured in the British TV series ‘Who Pays the Ferryman?’.

As the Greek Culture Ministry announced in a statement earlier this week Spinalonga, is now competing for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list. The Ministry submitted a preliminary file back in September 2018 in collaboration with the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) and a team of experts from the Directorate of Byzantine and Post Byzantine Antiquities, the Lasithi Ephorate of Antiquities, Agios Nikolaos Municipality as well as representatives of the UNESCO World Heritage Center in Greece.

“The inclusion of the Spinalonga Fortress in the World Heritage List is expected to contribute to an even greater visibility worldwide but also to have positive effects and multiple benefits for the local community, for which Spinalonga Fortress has always been a point of reference,” the statement read.

Another 18 Greek monuments belong in UNESCO’s register:

  • the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
  • the Acropolis in Athens
  • Delphi
  • the Medieval City of Rhodes
  • Meteora
  • Mount Athos
  • Thessaloniki’s Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments
  • the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus
  • the fortress town of Mystras
  • Olympia
  • Delos island
  • the Monasteries of Daphni, Osios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios
  • the Pythagoreionand Heraion on Samos,
  • Vergina
  • Mycenae and Tiryns
  • the Historic Centre – the Monastery of St John and the Apocalypse Cave on Patmos
  • the Old Town of Corfu
  • the archaeological site of Philippi, in Northern Greece, inscribed in 2016