ATLAS OBSCURA

POVEGLIA PLAGUE ISLAND -  VENICE - ITALY

A small island less than half a mile from Venice is a forbidden island with a dark and twisted past.

Poveglia was built on a permanent fortification built by the Venetian government, and from 1793-1814 was used as a plague quarantine station, or “lazaretto” - one of many in the Venetian lagoon.

The tiny island is said to have hosted over 160,000 infected souls living out their final days and hours there - so many that there are whispers that 50% of the soil consists of human remains. Recently, mass graves have been found on the nearby islands of Lazaretto Nuovo and Lazzaretto Vecchio containing the remains of thousands of plague victims. Poveglia has yet to be fully investigated.

Finding the location of Poveglia to be small and easily missed, Napoleon also used the island for a darker purpose, and stored weapons there. The location was discovered, and many small battles took place as the island claimed even more lives.

In 1922, a mental hospital was opened on Poveglia. Local legend says that one doctor at the hospital tortured and killed many of his patients, butchering them horribly only to later die by falling from (or possibly being thrown off of) the bell tower. The hospital closed in 1968, and the ruins are still there, slowly being reclaimed by greenery. And while it is professed to be a former retirement home, evidence that it housed mental patients is still evident.

More detail on the obscure abandoned asylum here !