Picturesque Greek island off coast of top holiday hotspot left ABANDONED with fortress in ruins over its chilling past | The Sun

A STUNNING island off the coast of Crete with its own fortress was left abandoned for years due to its dark past.

Eerie images reveal ruins on the uninhabited island whose history dates back to ancient Greece when it was known as Kalydon.

Due to its strategic location, it served as a powerful sea fortress for the Mediterranean against the Venetians and later the Ottomans before being plagued by stigma.

The tiny islet of Spinalonga, located in the northeast of the island, is best known for being a former leper colony – one of the last active ones in Europe.

Known as the "Island of the Living Dead", it was used to house lepers from all over the country due to its isolation from the mainland, from 1903 to 1957.

During the peak of the outbreak of the disease, Spinalonga was home to nearly 400 inhabitants.

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It is believed they had to face under inhumane living conditions due to the stigma of the illness at the time.

Additionally many were sent to Spinalonga after being misdiagnosed with minor skin conditions such as psoriasis.

But as more and more people arrived on the island they started forming a small community and conditions improved over time.

New roads were built, running water and electricity were introduced as well as a school, a hospital, coffee shops and even a cinema.

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The island officially ceased its operation as a leper colony in 1957- however the last leper, the island's priest left in 1962.

The popular book The Island which details the life of the Spinalonga lepers and their fight to survive,by British author Victoria Hislop, helped in clearing the tainted name of the island.

Today Spinalonga has turned into a popular tourist destination with thousands of visitors flocking to it every summer.

But when the tourist season comes to an end, Spinalonga returns to its isolated self, as no one lives on the small islet with the eerie vibe and the haunted past.

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