The Poveglia Island, located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, has a dark and unsettling history. The island was used as a quarantine station during times of plague, including the Bubonic Plague, and served as a dumping ground for the dead bodies of those who succumbed to the disease.

The island was divided into two parts by a canal and was first recorded in historical documents in 421. In 1776, it was used to separate the healthy from the unhealthy. According to local legends, Poveglia is an “island of ghosts” and is said to be cursed with many unhealthy spirits.

Poveglia Island
The Poveglia octagon served as a fort when the island became a naval post to protect against invasion.

Poveglia Island, located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon in northern Italy, is considered one of the most haunted places in the world. The island is currently illegal to visit, as it is said to be cursed with the spirits of the dead. Those who have dared to step foot on the island have reported feeling an overwhelming sense of dread and a desire to never leave. Even local fishermen avoid the area due to the fear of being cursed.

History of Poveglia Island

In 421, people from Padua and Este fled to Poveglia Island to escape barbarian invasions. The population of the island varied over time and was governed by a designated Podesta. In 1379, the Genoan fleet attacked Venice and the residents of Poveglia were relocated to Giudecca. The island remained uninhabited in the centuries that followed. A Cavana, a church, a hospital, an asylum, and a bell tower remained on Poveglia Island.

Poveglia Island – Island of Death

The dark history of Poveglia Island began way before the Black Death. During the Roman Era, it was used to isolate plague victims from the general population. The major bubonic plague that struck Italy began in 1437 and spread to Venice by 1348. Half of the Venetian population caught the disease and no one survived.

Poveglia Island

The officials deduced how the disease spread across and how people were getting infected and realized that they needed to separate the sick and dead plague victims from healthy individuals. As a result, two large burial pits were built for the corpses outside the main city.

The city came up with the concept of a lazaretto in the early 1400s, which is a hospital designed for the quarantine of affected and potentially ill people. Lazzaretto Vecchio, a small island, was home to the first hospital or institution for the quarantine of ill people. More than 1,500 skeletal victims of the bubonic plague buried in the pits were found during an excavation on the island.

Check grammar and make it better: During the medieval era, when the plague swept through Europe and killed nearly two-thirds of the population, Poveglia and other islands served as quarantine and dumping grounds for the dead. Some communities, in an effort to protect themselves, even began shipping away anyone who showed symptoms of the disease. People were forcibly taken to Poveglia and left to die among piles of rotting corpses.

Today, the only people who dare to visit Poveglia Island are those who go there to seasonally harvest grapes. The grapes vines thrive in the ash-filled soil, as more than 50 percent of the island’s soil is composed of human ash.

Why Is Poveglia Island Off Limits?

A psychiatric hospital was built on Poveglia in the early 20th century, and with the arrival of mentally disturbed patients and the privacy allowed to the doctors, the legend of the island began to grow as people sought to avoid the place. As time went on, stories about the inhumane treatment and experimentation on patients started to reach the outside world.

The mental hospital poveglia island
This sign that reads “Psychiatric Department” still remains in testament to the use of the hospital for mentally ill patients.

One particularly disturbing legend tells of a demented doctor who worked at the hospital and performed lobotomies on numerous patients, against their will. The process was incredibly painful and inhumane, with hammers, chisels, and drills used without any form of anesthesia. The doctor saved his darkest experiments for special patients, whom he took to the hospital’s bell tower. The screams of those being tortured could be heard across the island, and some say they can still be heard to this day.

The patients and staff finally abandoned the island in 1968 and it has been unoccupied to this day, except for the presence of hundreds of thousands of ghosts. The remaining buildings are crumbling away with time.

Human bones still wash up on Poveglia’s shore, with more than a hundred thousand plague victims and mental patients buried on the small island, it comes as no surprise that human bones continue to wash up on its shores. This fact alone is enough to keep visitors and potential buyers away. In fact, even fishermen avoid the island in order to stay safe from the curse of Poveglia Island.

Visiting the Island of Poveglia is illegal, making it one of the world’s most restricted places to visit. The government has attempted to auction off the island several times, but Poveglia Island remains uninhabited and unsold to this day.

Now that you’ve read about the Haunted Island of Poveglia, you might like reading about the Fort where entry is prohibited before and after the sunset by the government, making it the Most Haunted Place in India. You might also like reading about the Inhumane experiments conducted inside Japan’s UNIT 731.