Lazaretto - 'The Islet of Remembrance'

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lazaretto /ˌlæzəˈrɛtoʊ/ or lazaret (from Italian: lazzaretto [laddzaˈretto]) is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. In some lazarets, postal items were also disinfected, usually by fumigation. This practice was still being done as late as 1936, albeit in rare cases. A leper colony administered by a Christian Religious Order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the beggar. (Source - Wikipedia)

 

Lazaretto is a small islet on the North West side of Corfu Town approximately 2.5 miles from the coast. Covering an area of 70 acres it is situated between Kontokali and the New Port of Corfu. It is a very beautiful island with a wealth of varied vegetation but also has a very dark past.

 

 

Photograph above - corfublues.blogspot.com

 

During the Venetian era, circa early 16th Century, a small stone monastery was built on it and for the following 4 centuries it was utilized as a quarantine station where ships would dock for a period of 40 days to avoid epidemics and contamination of the locals on Corfu.  

 

It later served the purpose of a leper colony similar to the Cretan Island of Spinalonga.  Originally named Aghios Dimitrios it became known as Lazaretto for this reason. It then became a military hospital for Russian, French and English soldiers.

 

During World War II, with the Italian occupation, Lazaretto was turned into a Nazi concentration camp for prisoners of the national Greek Resistance Movement.

 

Between 1946 and 1949 with the Greek Civil War it is estimated that approximately 200 Greek patriots, political prisoners and communists were tortured, executed and buried en masse in anonymous graves on Lazaretto.

 

 

 Photo - Enimerosi

 

There remains today the two-storied edifice that served as the Headquarters of the Italian army, the small church and the wall of execution opposite it where those condemned to death were shot. The wooden crosses to commemorate the dead have been replaced with marble ones.

 

 

 Photo - Enimerosi

 

Since 1976 it has been proclaimed a place of remembrance and National Monument at which memorials are conducted. 

 

Photo - Enimerosi

 

Main photo - ioniansummer.com

Adelia Cook for MyKerkyra.com

 

 

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