Monday, October 10, 2016

Poveglia, the most haunted island in the world

Just a short distance away from Venice, Italy, there's the tiny Poveglia island, which has been called 'the world's most haunted island'. Venetians still have stories to tell about ghosts seen on the island, some friendly and some not. To understand why Poveglia has this reputation, we have to dive into its troubled past.

From 1776, Poveglia, which belonged to Venetian government was used as a check point for all goods and people coming to and going from Venice by ship. A few years later, in 1793, there were several cases of the plague on two ships, and consequently the island was transformed into a confinement station for the ill until it shut down in 1814. Venetians believed that the island was haunted by the ghosts of all those terminally ill who died on it. It is estimated that more than 100,000 died on the island over the centuries. Their bodies are still being discovered inside mass graves.

In the 20th century the island was again used as a quarantine station, but in 1922, the existing buildings were converted into an asylum for the mentally ill. That's where many people went through unimaginable horrors after a doctor allegedly experimented on patients with crude lobotomies. It is said that he later threw himself from the hospital tower after claiming he had been driven mad by ghosts.

Today, the surviving buildings on the island include a cavana, a church, a hospital, an asylum, a bell-tower and housing and administrative buildings for the staff. The bell-tower is the most visible structure on the island, and dates back to the 12th century. In 2014, the island was leased for 99 years by an Italian businessman under the condition that the abandoned structures will be restored. The restoration progress will cost around €19 million (around $21.2 million).

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