Unfortunately, though I love driving, I don’t have a car. So when my dad was visiting me in Athens for a few days I had to grasp the opportunity and go for a drive. What started as a late evening casual trip led me and Alex up Mount Parnitha.
Slowly scaling up the long winding road to the top of the mountain, where a casino is located (don’t ask me why) we admired the glittery view of Athens. But the real surprise was after the ascent. The road was not illuminated except for the car lights, and on a bend I saw a large dark building looming over. I had to take a picture of it cause it seemed so ominous under the night sky, so when we returned to this point I stopped the car and went out for some long exposure shots.
Parking the car at the side of the road opposite the building, the headlights reveal a sign that says “Park of Souls” and sculptural forms traced against the sky. First thought? Creepy! Second thought: Let’s be reasonable and see what this is all about. The Park of Souls is a sculptural installation by Greek sculptor and artist Spiros Ntasiotis, commemorating those who suffered and died in the Parnitha Sanatorium. Wait, what Sanatorium?
It appears that the building that had captured my eye is an old abandoned sanatorium for tuberculosis patients that operated from 1914 to 1960. The infected were “encouraged” to enter sanatoria that resembled prisons (the sanatoria for the middle and upper classes offered excellent care and constant medical attention). Whatever the (purported) benefits of the “fresh air” and labor in the sanatoria, even under the best conditions, 50% of those who entered died within five years.
The Parnitha Sanatorium has later been repurposed as a hotel, but today it is abandoned and serves as a major destination for occult lovers and ghost hunters, with paranormal rumors about it flooding the internet.
In fact, that very night we saw a bunch of guys with flashlights get in the building, apparently in search of ghostly activity. I’m not sure if they found something interesting… though I was tempted to make some weird noises while they where in. Sorry guys! I didn’t have my tripod with me so I just set the camera on the car roof, I was lucky to have some cars pass by to illuminate the scene. I even captured a ghost… NOT!
I definitely wanna go there again better prepared and take some more pictures. Maybe even take some long exposures inside the building…. ;)