Spinalonga is a barren rocky islet with an area of 8.5 hectares lying at the mouth of the natural port of Elounda. Due to its strategic location, it was fortified and served a variety of roles and purposes over the centuries.
Although it is small and known as the island of the lepers and the outcasts, Spinalonga has a rather interesting story to tell. The island forms a natural defence “mechanism” for Elounda harbour, and in 1579 the Venetians built a mighty fortress here on the ruins of an ancient acropolis. The Venetians kept control of the island even after the rest of Crete fell to the Ottomans in 1669 and it remained under their control for almost another half a century until its capitulation in 1715.
Today thousands of tourists visit Spinalonga by boat from Agios Nikolaos, Elounda and Plaka, each summer as it is the most popular archaeological site in Crete.
Different to all other towns in Crete, Agios Nikolaos is the most picturesque town in East Crete manages to mix - upon the three hills which support its girth - an arty, leisurely, and yet also bustling place.
Agios Nikolaos is a medium-size town with a small-town feel, one that has lots to offer. You can walk and enjoy walking here, you have several distinct waterfronts - you can get to know it quickly and feel familiar with the place, like an old friend.
The town has three faces to the sea: The Lake and port, Kitroplatia beach and the Marina. Its unique features, start with the lake ("Voulismeni"), a folklore-inspiringly deep body of water which is connected to the sea by a narrow inlet. It is surrounded and overlooked by cafes and restaurants - a busy gathering place for local residents and visitors alike.