Once a week, the local priest would sail to the leper colony from the village of Elounda on the northeastern tip of the island, to ease the suffering of the sick who longed for their families. It was at this island that they withered until they died of the incurable disease.
The Island, then known as the "Island of the Living Dead," served as a leper colony until 1953. Victoria Hyslop's best-selling novel "The Island" gave the island character and life in the face of its difficult history. In doing do it also turned the island into one of Crete's most famous attractions.
Upon reaching the island, one comes through the "gate of the condemned" - the entrance gate from the sea, through which the new lepers entered the island. Above it is written in Roman an ancient inscription that was so suited to the sad settlement: "May God preserve you."
Many of the tourists who come to see the remnants of the lepers' village also turn their attention to the dead in the cemetery where the lepers of the island were buried. The cemetery is divided by the classes: While the poor were buried under the cobblestone floors, thrown into a pit without so much as a funeral, the high-born lepers were granted their own graves.
Look carefully at the guard towers of the citadel and you will see that they have small openings in the bottom, which enabled the guards to relieve themselves, without abandoning their posts…