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This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Lazzaretto on Manoel Island

 

Valletta (47)

A lazzaretto is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Passengers arriving on board ships from infected countries had to spend a number of days (usually around forty) in quarantine before being allowed to mingle with the inhabitants. This was done  so as to ensure that any symptoms of the disease would be manifested and, as a result of this  preventive measure, the infection would not be spread to the rest of the population.

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The first lazzaretto was set up on Manoel Island in 1592 during an  outbreak of the plague. At that time,  temprary wooden huts were set up. These were later demolished. In 1643, Grand Master Lascaris, built a permanent structure in the same place to control the periodic outbreaks of plague and cholera on board visiting ships. The building consists of two floors with eight rooms on each floor surrounding a central courtyard. A series of arches runs along the facade facing the sea. Persons who died in the lazzaretto were buried on Manoel Island in one of six cemeteries that existed there at different times.

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Additional buldings were added from time to time, depending on the exigencies of the moment. In 1670, Grand Master Nicholas Cotoner made some improvements on the building constructed by Lascaris. Stores and warehosues were erected to house  merchandise from infected ports, together with facilities for disinfection and fumigation. The lazzaretto was enlarged further between 1837-38 under the governship of Sir Henry Frederick Bouverie.

Some famous visitors kept in isolation in the lazzaretto on Manoel Island were Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, William Thackeray, the Reverend (later Cardinal) John Henry Newman and a young Benjamin Disraeli.

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The lazzaretto on Manoel island was used as recently as 1937 when there was an outbreak of the plague. During WW2 it was damaged and eventually fell into a state of disrepair. In spite of plans to restore it, it is still an abandoned shell, slowly crumbling into the sea.

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5 comments:

  1. That's a shame it's not being maintained. It would be an interesting heritage site.

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  2. It's gorgeous and I imagine it could become a glorious hotel or better still, exhbition space...
    The plague as recently as that? Blimey!

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  3. This reminds me of Ellis Island in New York, but this one looks more inviting to visit. I do hope someone will step up and maintain/preserve this historical building

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  4. Nice pictures. Too bad the place is not maintained! Hopefully the gov will fix that.

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