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The park of souls

The park of souls <span class=postdate>04/07/2015</span>
The park of souls <span class=postdate>04/07/2015</span>
The park of souls <span class=postdate>04/07/2015</span>
The park of souls <span class=postdate>04/07/2015</span>

It is Sunday morning and we are driving up to the casino of Parnitha. The view is breathtaking as we keep going higher and higher on the mountain. We have the observatory right opposite to us and on our left hand, a few kilometers before the casino, stands imposing and scary the abandoned sanatorium of Parnitha.
This land was granted to Evangelismos by the Monastery of Asomaton- Petraki in 1914, in order to build a hospital that would treat tuberculosis. The dry climate of the mountain, the fresh air and the sun were essential for the recovery and sometimes even the cure of the patients who were flocking in thousands for almost 30 years, from 1917 until the discovery of penicillin in 1950. It was a purgatory of souls, which “hosted” many people from all over the country, considering that in the decade between 1929- 1939, more than 120000 patients died of tuberculosis in Greece.
At this sanatorium in 1937 and for about six months the poet Giannis Ritsos was hospitalized and unfortunately never cured. He did write however during his stay, three major works, among which, the famous “Spring Symphony”.
Hundreds of people had placed there their last hope of surviving the years before the Second World War, when the disease was in exacerbation. The hunger and the distress that followed, especially after 1941, led to death of tuberculosis, according to data, over 20000 people, only in Athens and Piraeus.

In 1965 the National Organization of Tourism (EOT) gains the property of the sanatorium and in time, turns it to a large hotel complex, by the name “Xenia”. Over the years, the place becomes a school for tourism professionals until 1985, when it is eventually abandoned and deserted…
The building has suffered great damages at the earthquake of 1999 and afterwards, at the fire of 2007, nevertheless, it remains almost unharmed on the outside until today.

Visiting the place is not entirely safe because of the building’s instability, but also because it is believed to be a place of paranormal activity. There have been occasional reports of weird images and several audio documents that can only take para psychological explanation. Over the last 10 years several groups of researchers carrying special equipment have repeatedly visited the area making measurements and recording things that sometimes shock…
The place inside and around the sanatorium exudes a negative atmosphere, maybe because there is a lot of accumulated energy, pain, sorrow, illness, even death. There are also some reports by visitors and passengers about strange incidents that have occurred, such as the one of “the lady’s little girl”. Legend has it, that right before she died, the little girl who was once treated in the hospital, asked to be taken to the nearest source to drink some water, as she was very thirsty, but never made it… Since then, she has appeared to several people who happened to pass by, sometimes crying and sometimes asking them to take her to the source…
In 2012 right across the sanatorium The Park of Souls was created, an outdoor gallery of wooden sculptures made of burnt tree trunks, dedicated to the memory of those who lived their last moments there. It was created to remind us of the feelings, the concerns and the fear of both the patients and their relatives, but also to fill us with courage and strength to carry on.

Pay a visit to this place, it is worth it and you don’t have to do it alone or at night if you are afraid to do so. Eventually, maybe this place will have a positive effect on you and despite the pain and the tragedy, can offer you will for life and hope for the future.

 

Konstantinos Zaimis
 

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