A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. Until 1908, lazarets were also used for disinfecting postal items, usually by fumigation. A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the Beggar.

Lazarettos throughout history

The first lazaret was established by Venice in 1403 on Santa Maria di Nazareth (also called "Nazaretum" or "Lazaretum", today "Lazzaretto Vecchio"), an island in the Venetian Lagoon . Additionally there is Lazzaretto Nuovo, also in the lagoon.

Pope Clement XII erected a Lazaretto at the south end of the Ancona harbor. Fidra an uninhabited island in the Firth of Forth, off eastern Scotland has the ruins of an old chapel, or lazaretto for the sick, which was dedicated to on it St. Nicholas.

Lazaretto Island, (formerly known as Aghios Dimitrios) located two nautical miles northeast of Corfu . The island has an area of 17.5 acres and is administered by the Greek National Tourist Organization. During World War II, the Axis Occupation of Greece established a concentration camp there for the prisoners of the Greek National Resistance movement. There remains today the two-storied building that served as the Headquarters of the Italian army, a small church, and the wall against which those condemned to death were shot.

In the early 16th century, when Corfu was under Venetian rule, a monastery was established on the islet. Later that century, the island was renamed Lazaretto, after the leprosarium that was set up there.

In 1798, when the French ruled Corfu, the Russo-Turkish fleet took over the islet and ran it as a military hospital. In 1814, during the British occupation, the leprosarium was renovated and went into operation again. After the Ionian Islands were united with Greece (1864), the leprosarium only operated when needed.

Lazaretto Islet survives on Ithaca and another on Zakynthos. As of 2002, one of the few remaining lazarets in Europe is the one in Dubrovnik.

In the United States, the Philadelphia Lazaretto was the first edifice of its kind in the country.

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