What makes Spinalonga a monument, could be easily described by the cultural value of the place. Architectural remains of different historical periods and cultural influences coexist on the island. Moreover, Spinalonga is a monument dedicated to human pain. It symbolizes the concept of incarceration and is synonymous with torment.
In antiquity the islet was walled to protect the ancient city of Olous. In 1579, Venetians built one of the most important defensive sea fortresses in the Mediterranean. In 1715 the islet was surrendered to the Turks, and Muslims created the largest trading center of Mirabello. In 1903, the Cretan State established a leper colony on the island which has initially stigmatized the place. The state was obliged to provide an allowance to each patient along with physicians, caretakers and a priest. The inhabitants resided in already existing buildings but they also constructed new buildings during 1930. Today many well-preserved two-storey houses and shops remain intact.