Spinalonga (“Behind the pack” Part 2)

Last year, I intended to do a few posts on the theme of ‘Behind the Pack’. As I explained then “It has struck me, that whenever we joined a tour of a town, village or wherever when travelling (rare, we usually did our own thing), there were always interesting places to be photographed just off the main track. So I often hung back (or made my way to an area I had seen that looked more enticing) and took my images while everyone else was listening to whatever the guide had to say.”

I posted part 1 of Behind the Pack about a palace in Hungary here. Today we’re time travelling again, this time to Spinalonga as I saw it nearly 3 decades ago. I was prompted to get on and finish this post by a fellow blogger’s post on Crete yesterday. So here goes.

I visited Crete in the late 1980s, and had heard of Spinalonga. In those days, you had to visit in a guided group, it was before the days of Visitor Centres. This was probably the first time that I decided to hang back from the main group to get my images. I made sure I stayed in sight, as I didn’t want to cause problems with getting the boat back to mainland Crete! At the end, the guide asked me if I was a professional photographer…I wish.

I felt a palpable sense of sorrow on that island, despite the beautiful sunny day, and tried to be as respectful to the memory of those that had once lived here as I could. From 1903 to 1957 the island was used as a leper colony. it has been abandoned since then.

Spinalonga Island approach

Spinalonga Island approach

This was the first part of the island the leprosy sufferers would have seen when they arrived:

Entrance arch, Spinalonga

Entrance arch, Spinalonga

Dark archway

Dark archway

Street from archway

Street from archway

Main street, Spinalonga

Main street, Spinalonga

street and shadows

street and shadows

Spinalonga church

Spinalonga church



  1. You did well to get the shots without anyone in them. Obviously you love of decay goes a long way back, that Main Street photo is the best – great spots of light!

    • My love of decay goes back to childhood….etched in my mind is a line of ruined miner’s houses at Abergynolwyn yonks ago…I was so disappointed that my dad wouldn’t let me climb the (rotting, no doubt) stairs! I didn’t have a camera then, I must have been about 7. No-one in those images because everyone had gone on ahead… My deliberate strategy!

  2. Fantastic photos, Sue!

    • Thanks Angeline! I was very inspired by this place, and I was glad to see the slides dad survived the decades when I scanned them in….

  3. Beautiful. I’m always torn between hearing the dialogue and capturing great photos, being behind the pack certainly paid off in this instance.

  4. vastlycurious.com

    Gee I want your life of travel !

  5. Beautiful photographs, Thank you and also Thanks for visiting my blog, I am so glad to meet you in this amazing world. With my love, nia

  6. Very evocative shots Sue. It pays to hang back from the crowd! 🙂

  7. You captured the melancholy of the atmosphere so well here Sue, and I must have missed this post, glad you sent me your link. Your photographs bring our visit back as if it were yesterday. Another blogger recently posted about Spinalonga too, must be on our minds! It is a place that grabs you doesn’t it? The decay of the main street is an amazing shot, but I love them all. Great share, thanks 🙂

    • Thanks, Sherri, for your comment. I hoped that I had captured the melancholy in these images. In those days, there was enough of the wood and external fittings on the buildings to make them look like abandoned dwellings. I suspect now they are just empty masonry shells…is that how it looked to you?

  8. oh this one is speaking to me through your images. These building must have seen so much sorrow, hope they saw happiness too

  9. I would just walk around there with my mouth open and eyes popping out to see everything. I would want to touch the wall, and streets. Anything just to get the sense of living there.

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