You’ve probably heard about the many terrifying islands that exist around the world. Poveglia Island, known as the Ghost Island, offers us a story quite unlike any other…
The Black Death was a disease that dominated Europe for many centuries. During that period, various methods were attempted by states to stop the spread of the plague. However, the most chilling of these methods was devised by the Venetian state.
Black Death Disease
Their approach involved quarantining patients on an island. But for a disease with no known cure, being sent to the island was akin to a death sentence. Poveglia Island was used precisely for this purpose.
Poveglia, one of the 166 islands in the Venetian Lagoon of northern Italy, may look like a cheerful place at first glance, but its history is dark and diseased. Hence, it is today regarded as one of the world’s most haunted and paranormally active locations.
In the 14th century, Europe was battling the Black Death. The plague re-emerged repeatedly over centuries. Eventually, the island became a quarantine center for people caught in the plague, and most of those sent there lost their lives. Thus, Poveglia Island started to be known as ‘The Island of Death’ or ‘Ghost Island.’
Before the Black Death
Poveglia was used as a settlement by the Romans in the 5th century AD. A defensive fortress was constructed by the Venetians on the island in the 14th century, and it was used as an outpost. However, the plague epidemic turned this small island into a center of death.
In the 16th century, the island was transformed into a checkpoint by public health officials to protect Venice, an important trading city, from the plague.
The plague never seemed to end, and the city had previously lost half of its population to the disease. From the late 1770s, Poveglia Island became a checkpoint for all goods and people entering and leaving Venice.
If a plague case was detected on a ship, the patients were sent to Poveglia for quarantine. However, there was no cure for the plague at that time. Patients had to stay on the island for 40 days.
They would either recover or die. Unfortunately, Poveglia Island became a grave for many. As the number of dead increased, the island turned into a mass burial site. Unable to manage the number of corpses, authorities resorted to burning them. Even today, a large part of the soil on Poveglia Island is composed of human ashes. The island was used as a quarantine station between 1793 and 1814.
An Abandoned Ghost Island
In 1922, the existing buildings were repurposed as an asylum for the mentally ill. However, during this period, horrific experiments were reported to have taken place in the hospital. Therefore, the hospital was closed in 1968. The island was briefly used for agriculture afterward but is now abandoned.
In 2014, the Italian state offered Poveglia Island for auction with a 99-year lease to a buyer who thought to convert it into a hotel to increase revenue.
Italian businessman Luigi Brugnaro made the highest bid, offering 513,000 Euros to buy the island, but later withdrew his offer.
Today, Poveglia Island is known for its many plague pits. According to an estimate by National Geographic, over 100,000 people lost their lives on the island over the centuries and were buried in plague pits. Some sources claim the death toll to be as high as 160,000.
Poveglia, due to its dark history, is frequently featured in paranormal shows. Visits to the island are prohibited, but various books and articles describe visits by writers and photographers.
It is believed that Poveglia is the most haunted island in the world. Locals avoid setting foot on the island, and fishermen prefer to take a longer route rather than passing near it. Some people claim to hear the voices of plague victims from the island.
Ghost Island in Popular Culture
Poveglia Island’s eerie and intriguing past has been the subject of many films, books, series, and documentaries.
‘Ghost Adventures: Poveglia Island’ (TV Series): An episode of the television series ‘Ghost Adventures’ is dedicated to Poveglia Island. This episode explores the island’s chilling past and paranormal activities.
‘Poveglia’ (Book): A thriller novel titled ‘Poveglia’ by J.H. Moncrieff is available. The book tells a horror story revolving around the island’s cursed past.
‘Ghost Adventures: The Curse of Poveglia’ (Documentary): The Ghost Adventures team has prepared a documentary investigating the paranormal activities of Poveglia Island. This documentary deeply examines the island’s history and mysteries.
‘Poveglia: Unraveling the Mystery of Venice’s Ghost Island’ (Book): Written by Paul S. Valenti, this book delves into the island’s history and tales. It focuses on Poveglia Island’s eerie past, epidemic diseases, and paranormal beliefs.”
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