|Poveglia Island near Venice, Italy is thought to be one of the most haunted places in the world|
According to legend, the notoriety of this island began back in the reign of the Roman Empire when during a plague outbreak, the bodies of the dead would be brought to this island and thrown in heaps to keep them away from the general population.
The island became a refuge for those fleeing the barbarian invasions between the 5th and 8th centuries. Many wars were fought on the tiny island as it became a fortification to protect against the invaders. Many died on the island during these wars. A structure known as the Octagon was built to help defend the island. The eight sided foundation of it remains to this day.
|The remains of the fortification known as The Octagon can be seen in the foreground of Poveglia Island near Venice, Italy|
In the 1500s, another plague struck Italy and Poveglia as well as other local islands served again as a dumping ground for the bodies. They were thrown into large pits and later they were piled up and set ablaze. To this day, ash still covers the island. The ash is what remains of the cremated plague victims. It is said that some plague victims that had not even died were rounded up and led to the island in boats to await their death. The Italian doctors could be seen in the boats wearing their plague masks with the bird-like beak to protect themselves from contracting the disease as they led them out to the island.
|The plague doctors of old Italy would wear plague masks to protect them from the diseases carried by the patients they administered to|
Supposedly, as time passed visitors to Poveglia began to witness paranormal events on the island. Apparitions of the plague victims of the past were said to roam the tiny piece of ground. Screams of the dead and dying are rumored to be heard. At a couple of points in history the Italian government tried to actually give the island away, but there were no takers.
An attempt was made to actually use the island again in 1922 when a mental hospital was built on Poveglia. Patients at the hospital complained that they would see ghosts and were haunted by the spirits of the island. However, these complaints were dismissed since they were mental patients after all.
|An interior shot of the mental hospital at Poveglia Island, Italy|
Legend says that a particular doctor at the mental institution was crazed and performed tortuous experiments on many patients, killing them in the process. They say that the spirits got revenge on him however, causing him to jump from the bell tower on the premises. When he did not die from the fall, they say that an eerie mist enveloped him and suffocated him. The hospital remained open until the 1960s. Rumor has it that the spirit of the crazed doctor has now been seen among the others on Poveglia Island haunting the bell tower where he died. Some say that on certain nights, the eerie chime of the bell tower can be heard across the harbor, however, the island is unoccupied.
|The docks and structure of the mental hospital at Poveglia Island, Italy. Some say the shadowy figure near the top of the dock stairs to the left is an apparition.|
Today, the island is abandoned and is closed off from the public. Access can only be granted by special permission. Various paranormal teams have been allowed to investigate the island and it's facilities and reports are that Poveglia is definitely a haunted place!
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