August 21, 2014

1196 GREECE (Crete) - Fortress of Spinalonga (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

The island of Spinalonga, officially known as Kalydon, is located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Elounda, near the Spinalonga peninsula, which often causes confusion. Actually it is an island only from 1526, since the Venetian occupation, when it was carved out of the coast for defense purposes. In 1578 the Venetians charged the engineer Genese Bressani to plan the island's fortifications.

He created blockhouses at the highest points of the northern and southern side of the island, as well as a fortification ring along the coast. Afterwards they built stone walls, and the fortifications were extended, so that Spinalonga become an impregnable sea fortress, one of the most important in the Mediterranean basin, and a masterpiece of human ingenuity. Along with Gramvousa and Souda, Spinalonga remained in Venetian hands even after the rest of Crete fell to the Ottomans in the Cretan War (1645-1669) and until 1715.

The island was used as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957, being one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. The last inhabitant, a priest, left the island in 1962. Other leper colonies that have survived Spinalonga include Tichileşti in Eastern Romania, Fontilles in Spain and Talsi in Latvia. As of 2002, few lazarettos remain in Europe. There were two entrances to Spinalonga, one being the lepers' entrance, a tunnel known as Dante's Gate, from understandable reasons.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series The 100th Anniversary of the First Ascent of Mount Olympus, about which I wrote here.

The second is part of the series Ecologocal Transportation - The Bicycle, designed by Mariana Lasithiotaki and issued on June 12, 2014:
• 0.72 EUR
• 0.72 EUR
• 0.80 EUR - it's on the postcard
• 2.00 EUR

Spinalonga - Wikipedia

Sender: Milda Kriukaite (direct swap)
Sent from Rethymno (Crete / Greece), on 31.07.2014

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