A quarantine station, a dumping ground for plague victims, more recently a mental hospital — the tiny island of Poveglia in the Venice Lagoon has served many unpleasant purposes over the years, but today it stands empty, a crumbling collection of abandoned buildings and weeds run riot just two miles from the glittering palaces of the Grand Canal.
Legends and rumors about Poveglia are nearly as pervasive as the weeds, and they read like a horror story: that so many people were burned and buried there during the black plague that the soil is 50% human ash; that local fishermen give the island a wide berth for fear of netting the wave-polished bones of ancestors; that the psychiatrist who ran the mental hospital was a butcher and torturer who went mad from guilt and threw himself from the island’s belltower, only to survive the fall and be strangled by a “ghostly mist” that emerged from the ground.
An intriguing look into a very much abandoned island near Venice Italy. But not just your run of the mill island, this one has a pretty sorted history.
Starting as a battlement to protect the port, these three closely linked islands quickly were converted into a modern day “customs” inspection port for incoming and outgoing ships. Later the island was used to quaranteen sailors with the plague, and a final resting place for those who succombed to their ailments and were burned then interred; reportedly in the one hundred thousand plus range. It’s said that 50% of the island soil is ash from human remains.
Finally, it was transformed into a mental hospital, where supposedly horrible experiments were performed by a physician that was trying to cure insanity. He reportedly jumped to his death from a tower after apparently suffering from the same illness he sought to cure. This is reportedly the most haunted place on the planet, if you subscribe to that school of thought.
Strange Geographies: The Happy, Haunted Island of Poveglia via Mentalfloss
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