PHOTOS: Take a Journey Into the Most Beautiful Mental Asylum in the World

Is this the most beautiful mental asylum in the world? It’s certainly not what you’d expect when you picture a mental institution. In main stream media, an asylum summons images of dehumanization, cruel experiments, prison-like cells and blank white or stone hallways.

The extensive grounds of the Villa Sbertoli psychiatric hospital in Tuscany is the polar-opposite—it looks more like a resort or stately manor.

The grounds offer sweeping views of the picturesque Tuscan countryside, ornate architecture, and stunning artworks throughout.

Even in its decrepit state, the beauty of the place is stunningly majestic.

It was built in the 1800s by Augustine Sbertoli, an Italian businessman whose son allegedly went “mad.” Sbertoli converted the property into a mental facility in 1868, and it continued as such until it was shut down in 1998 when Italy enforced a mental health reformation act.

It called for all “old style” psychiatric care facilities and asylums to close.

However during it’s more than 100 years of operation, the Villa Sbertoli treated patients from all over Europe for psychiatric illnesses, epilepsy, alcoholism and more. The wealthy would send their troubled relatives there—essentially out of sight, out of mind.

During World War II the facility was briefly used as a political prison, but it soon returned to its original purpose when it ended.

Check out the slideshow above to tour the hauntingly beautiful abandoned asylum.