May 15 2014

Spinalonga: The Greek Island of Lepers Finally Resurrected & Accepting Tourists

Sixteen buildings on the Greek island of Spinalonga are going to be braced and cleaned in order to be used in a new archaeological site. In addition to these changes, there will be another project that aims to improve the accessibility for tourists of the island, which was used as a leprosarium for more that half a century.

Spinalonga Island, Greece

The two projects were approved by the Central Archaeological Council during its last meeting, as the island has experienced increasing visits and has been included in UNESCO’s list of cultural monuments.

Spinalonga Island in Greece

The island looks completely different now,” states the general secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Lina Mendoni, referring to the many projects that took place on the island over the last ten years. “Several million Euros have been spent on these projects,” she outlined. The projects have been financed through Community funds.

Spinalonga Island, Greece view as you arrive

Buildings in Spinalonga Island, Greece

The buildings that will be braced, cleaned and imprinted, are in very poor condition. The walls of some buildings contain mural paintings that have remained since the time of the leprosarium, according to Mr. Themistoklis Vlaxoudis. A priority of the Ministry of Culture is to brace the buildings so that they are not dangerous for the visitors, and so that the buildings do not lose any of the valuable architectural characteristics that remain.

The projects that are going to take place in Spinalonga, among others, are: the construction of a wooden ramp that will lead the visitors from the shoreline to the archaeological site, the cleanup and the repair of the water tanks in order to create new sanitary spaces, the improvement of the paths on which visitors move around the site, and the addition of wayfinding signs.

Street at Spinalonga, Greece

Buildings on Spinalonga Island, Greece

Starting this tourist season, the island will receive visitors from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. This site is part of the pilot programme that the Ministry of Culture has organized and includes thirty-three archaeological sites and museums.

Spinalonga is in the north area of Elounda, in the prefecture of Lasithi. The island had a turbulent history from 1903 until 1957, when it was used as a leprosarium, something that profoundly affected the island.

Are there places connected to unpleasant historical events in the area you live? Have they been restored and open for the public?

The original article, published in Greek, can be found here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Dafni Dimitriadi

Dafni Dimitriadi is a student of Architecture at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Her numerous experiences in participating in architectural competitions have helped her understand the importance of research and design. She is interested in building and urban design restoration and aims to continue her studies in order to gain more knowledge related to these fields. She is an active volunteer and has participated in many interesting projects, including Open House Thessaloniki. She currently lives in Thessaloniki and through her blogs aims to explore developments associated with architecture and urban design.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2014 at 9:39 am and is filed under Dafni Dimitriadi, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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