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Lazaretta islet

Beach description

Lazaretta islet, situated across Nea Chora, functioned as a leprosarium for the Venetians in the 17th century, similar to most islets in Crete’s cities. Its moniker is derived from Lazarus, whom the Roman Catholic Church recognizes as the lepers’ patron saint.

Historically, it has been identified as a burial site, presumably for patients, and the site still exhibits the remnants of buildings that the Turks demolished in 1645 to install a sizeable cannon to assist their siege of Chania’s stronghold at the harbour entrance. In certain areas, fragments of bombs dropped during the German military operations in World War II can still be observed.

The islet is home to a Saint Nicholas shrine, constructed by a local man in 1954. This man suffered a sunstroke on the island but was able to swim to Nea Chora and survive. The island features a small sandy beach, favored for snorkeling and often visited by local diving schools and seafaring tour boats. In the 1950s, long-distance competitive swimmers frequently selected Lazaretta as their starting point for races, with the inner harbour of Chania serving as the finish line.


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