Lazzaretto In Manoel Island.
The Lazzaretto was a quarantine facility and a hospital on Manoel Island in Gzira, Malta. This hospital dates back to between the 17th and 19th centuries. The building is still standing however, it is in a state of despair because of the Second World War and years of neglect that followed after. There are plans for the Lazzaretto to be renovated in the near future.
Its vast history.
Marsamxett Harbour began to be used for quarantine. During the deadly plague of 1592-93, a temporary hospital was built in the middle of the harbor. Back then it was known as “L-isolotto” now called Manoel Island.
In 1643, the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, wanted to build a permanent lazaretto because of the fears of an epidemic and built the first single building. The building was later expanded to a second block by Grand Masters Nicolas Cotoner in 1670, Gregorio Carafa in 1683, Roman Parellos Rocoaful in 1701, and Antonio Manoel de Vilhena in 1726. Grand Master Emmanuel De Rohan also built a new block and warehouses.
During the Epidemics.
The Lazzaretto was used as a hospital during the plague of 1813-14 and the plague of 1937. It was also served as a military hospital for British, French, and Italian soldiers during the Crimean War. Many historical figures had stayed there with the likes of Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, Horace Vernet, Benjamin Disraeli, and Alphonse de Lamartine.
The Lazaretto had a section that was used to fumigate incoming mail. Disinfected mail was marked with a red wax seal from around 1814-1844. The disinfection of mail on a large scale lasted until the 1800s and was used in very rare cases up to 1936.
Used by the health authorities
The health authorities used the hospital until 1939, then it was used for the military during World War II. Between 1941 to 1942 it was used as a submarine depot and the Italians and Germans bombarded the building several times. Many buildings were destroyed and other structures had to be demolished due to the damage that was sustained. The Lazzaretto reopened again in 1949 and remained open until the Royal Navy departed from Malta in the 1970s.
Today and it’s future
Today the building is dilapidated and parts of it have collapsed and others in danger of collapsing. It is to bee restored by the development company MIDI who also restored Fort Manoel and Fort Tigne. After the restoration, another complex is set to be converted into residences, offices, restaurants, a casino, and a boutique hotel with an underground car park is also planned. As if we don’t have enough of places of entertainment on this small island ☹