Anyone who has read The Island by Victoria Hislop, which was turned into a series by Greek TV in 2010 (filmed here), already knows the story about Spinalonga. Rising in Mirabello Bay, this tiny island was fortified by the Venetians in the 17th century as part of their strategy to protect Crete from Turkish invasion. From 1903 to 1957, it was used as a leper colony. Today, the ruins give a special atmosphere of abandonment, but nonetheless, the lepers lived reasonably well, building their own society and receiving food and medical supplies from the mainland. Daily excursion boats run to Spinalonga from both Áyios Nikólaos and Plaka.