Abandoned Poveglia Island Home to the Plague Pits Mass Graves

derelict poveglia island mass pits graveyard

The island of Poveglia is off of the sandbar settlement of Lido, and part of the city of Venice, region of Veneto, Italy.

mass pits graveyard poveglia island

Poveglia was first mentioned in the 5th century when the first settlers came and made home here after fleeing from barbarian invasions. The island population increased in the 800’s and so did its popularity and importance. Soon it was governed by a Podesta until an attack led the people to flee in 1379. For a few centuries after the island remained uninhabited. In 1645, the Venetian government built a fort on the small 3rd island of Poveglia, as 1 of 5 that would protect the lagoon.

The Magistrato alla Sanità or Public Health Office was given control of Poveglia in 1776 to be a check point for all cargo and visitors coming to Venice by boat. 17 years later the Plague (an epidemic disease) was reported to affect several people on separate ships and the island was then set up as a confinement station for the sick. Napoleon Bonaparte made this the permanent use for the island in 1805. In 1814, this quarantine station was closed.

abandoned island in Italy that has mass graves

In the early 1900’s the island was used a quarantine station again but was later turned into an asylum for the mentally ill and long term care housing in 1922. The hospital was closed in 1968 and a few years after the island was abandoned.

The island now stands empty with access restricted to only the Italian Government. The remains are a hospital, a bell tower (which dates back to the 12th century), a shelter for boat housing, an asylum, church, housing for staff and an administrative building.

Decay of Poveglia Island filled with mass graves

Several statements that the island is haunted have surfaced more than once, as one doctor who would experiment on patients killed himself after he claimed ghosts were haunting him in the 1920’s. It may not have even been the ghosts of any patients he may have killed as the island is home to at least one known Plague Pit (or mass grave) where it is estimated that 100,000 people may have died.

derelict and abandoned povelgia island with mass graves in Italy

Today, Ghost Adventures and Scariest Places on Earth have covered Poveglia Island.

Where is the abandoned island and hospital of Poveglia located? You can find it with these coordinates. 45.381059,12.331448.

Mass graves at Poveglia Abandoned Island in Italy

All images used and licensed under CC BY NC SA 2.0. All images by ntenny / flickr.

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