The Angels’ Island (Insula Îngerilor), the Enchanted Islet of Bucharest’s Lake Morii

The island's Roman style gazebo

photography by: Omri Westmark

Initially built as a countermeasure against flooding, Lacul Morii is Bucharest's largest lake and where the waters of the Dâmboviţa River pass before flowing through the city center. The reservoir's northern tip is home to an artificially-made isle, known locally as the Island of Angles. Frozen in time for more than three decades, this mysterious speck of land is infested with ghostly beings as many locals testify, making it a magnet for ghost hunters and joggers alike.

Sandwiched between Giulești Sârbi, Crângași, Giulești and Militari districts, Lake Morii (translated as the Mill Lake) is by far the largest body of water across the Romanian capital, spanning across 246 hectares. The construction of this large water reservoir was commissioned in 1986 by the then Romanian president, Nicolae Ceaușescu, who sought to regulate the flow of the Dâmboviţa river. As the river meanders through the downtown area, the plan aimed at preventing any future seasonal floods by constructing the Ciurel Dam, next to the Polytechnic University of Bucharest.

 

To make room for the brand-new lake, the authorities demolished more than 400 homes, two schools and the area’s oldest church, St. Nicholas. However, it was the relocation of a local cemetery that sparked much controversy, as 12,000 graves were transferred elsewhere, while others were left behind and subsequently inundated with water.

 

The communist regime at that time envisioned the massive project as far more than merely utilitarian, therefore creating a lakefront esplanade, culminating at a man-made isle, designated for all sorts of recreational activities. Dubbed as the Angles’ Island, or Insula Îngerilor, this 3.27-hectare artificial isle is connected to the mainland by a land bridge, which practically makes it a peninsula. The government, which branded it as a natural oasis in the middle of Bucharest, embellished the island with a Roman-style gazebo, a lavish fountain, a small pier and a pair of colonnades.

 

Following the premature death of the Romanian dictator and the subsequent fall of the country’s Communist regime, the Angles’ island along with the surrounding lake fell into a state of disrepair. As the islet became steeped in abandonment, rumors about supernatural activities have sprung up. Story has it that the spirits of the people whose graves were desecrated when the lake was created are now restlessly hovering above the island. In fact, according to fishermen who frequent Insula Îngerilor, strange lights and strong knocking sounds are routinely experienced during the morning mist. Over the years, several unverified claims also pointed out that the local mafia gangs get rid of their adversaries by throwing them into the lake, possibly adding more dwellers to the island’s colony of ghosts.

 

Lately, there are many talks about restoring the island’s former glory by converting it into a recreational complex with artificial beaches. Despite the recent renovation of Lacul Morii’s esplanade, none of these ambitious plans to beautify the island have come into fruition yet. Nevertheless, the island hosted the Coke-live festival in 2007, whereas in 2011, a group of volunteers planted almost 500 trees at its premises. Only future will tell if its current state of dilapidation persists for long, one thing is clear though, both the dead and the living can appreciate the island’s peculiar serenity for the time being.

The promenade along the shore of Lake Morii

photography by: Omri Westmark


The Island of Angles as seen from the esplanade

photography by: Omri Westmark


The land-bridge connecting the islet with the mainland

photography by: Omri Westmark


An urban vista, viewed from the isle

photography by: Omri Westmark


The main pathway, popular among cyclists and joggers

photography by: Omri Westmark


The islet's iconic colonnade, standing right next to an empty pier

photography by: Omri Westmark


A jogger running across the main walkway

photography by: Omri Westmark


The island is home to a pair of colonnades that greets all visitors as they enter the premises

photography by: Omri Westmark


A broad walkway, wedged between strips of sordid lawn

photography by: Omri Westmark


Once a lavish flower-shaped fountain, nowadays a decrepit place

photography by: Omri Westmark


The defunct fountain might not have any water these days, but it is chockfull of graffiti and weeds

photography by: Omri Westmark


The derelict gazebo still enjoys some unique acoustic features. When standing beneath its roof, any sound one makes is getting amplified and echoed around.

photography by: Omri Westmark


The trail that runs along the island's shoreline

photography by: Omri Westmark


Its verdant banks have some ideal places to sit and gaze at Bucharest's skyline

photography by: Omri Westmark


In recent years, the isle became popular among cyclists who visit the place as they encircle the entire lake

photography by: Omri Westmark


A mysterious grave lies on the grassy shore, overlooking the reservoir and the surrounding neighborhoods

photography by: Omri Westmark