The world’s most haunted island: Poveglia

The world’s most haunted island: Poveglia

by Addison Takats
Stripes Europe

We warn you now…this story is not for the faint of heart. Proceed with caution.


One of 166 islets in the Venice Lagoon, Poveglia is a tiny island, with a lot of fear surrounding it. Known as the most haunted island in the world Poveglia has a dark, dark past. Dating all the way back to the bubonic plague.

In 1776 the island was operating as a checkpoint for ships carrying goods and people wishing to enter Venice. Officials quickly discovered multiple cases of the plague on board the vessels and turned the island into a confinement area. As the plague began to spread more rapidly, more and more Italians who appeared to have the plague were sent to the island along with voyagers who came into port showing symptoms of disease. It is estimated that thousands of souls perished on that tiny island. In fact, there is a large field that was used for the burning and burial of bodies so much so that the island’s soil is said the be almost completely made up of burned plague victims.

With the eventual dying out of the plague, the island remained dark until about 1922 when the existing buildings were turned into a mental hospital (you can use your imagination for how humane a mental hospital might’ve been in the 1920s). The doors of the mental facility closed in 1968, and the island has since then sat empty. But, according to locals and the very occasional visitor, perhaps the island has more life than we think.

Besides the reports of multiple ghosts lingering from the days of the plague, it is rumored that a doctor of the mental hospital jumped to his death from the island’s bell tower after experiencing more paranormal activity than he could handle. He has since been said to have joined in on the paranormal activity and is one of many ghosts on the island. Visitors claim they can still hear the bell, even though the bell has been removed for years.

The island has had so many sighting and reports of ghostly behavior, that the Italian government has banned visitors. Now in order to visit you must have special permission and a permit. Even then, most Italians will refuse to boat you over. In many a ghostly television special, the hosts had to pay very convincingly to get a ride over and then were promptly abandoned on the island’s dock as the captain didn’t wish to stay.

Many locals have been campaigning for something productive to be done with the island. Over the years there have been plans proposed for an activity center and a park, but with the mystery surrounding the island, it has remained dark and abandoned. Perhaps one day you can slide down the slide of the world’s most haunted island, but for now Poveglia is one place you’ll just have to read about.

Note: Because the island is rarely visited, we had a hard time getting a photo we could use with permissions. So, we encourage you to do your own googling to see images of the island. 


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