When limited knowledge and prejudice create communities like the one of Spinaloga,
always some visionary people write their own story….
The unknown Sanatorium of Pelion
Greece, 1900 ….
a difficult period, without technical means. Prejudice and fear dominated societies, and the word Tuberculosis or “Hticio” was synonymous with the current AIDS.
Pelion 1907 …
Doctor Georgios Karamanis suspects that he suffers from Tuberculosis. As an expert Pulmonologist he knows that this may be the end of his life. But as a visionary and idealist, he decides to establish the first mountainous Sanatorium in Greece in Hania, Pelion. It starts with an old “Hani” (pension) and with only three beds.
The rest of his life – he died at the age of 91 and without suffering from the illness – he devotes himself to the fight against the disease and to give quality to the lives of people who, due to their problem, live in a social exclusion. Doctor Karamanis invests whatever he earns again in his sanatorium and keeps nothing for himself (that’s why locals call him “the saint of the mountain”). However, he often visits Switzerland and informs himself about all new developments in his field of science.
He studies models of similar sanatoriums abroad, introduces machines that at that time seem to be taken out of science fiction films and at a time when the use of electricity was the exception and not the rule, all the rooms have electric lights, central heating and running water. The Sanatorium has a telephone, biochemical laboratory, sterilization facilities and patients enjoy good and rich food, outdoor activities, a reading room, a place where they could enjoy sun and fresh air…
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In 1919 Anna, a charming 19-year-old, arrives at the sanatorium. Although her desire was to go to a monastery, her parents send her to the sanatorium in order to serve in addition to God also the people. Doctor Karamanis trains the girl and after three years they get married.
The social attitude of the doctor and the personality and beauty of his 30 years younger wife make the Sanatórion a place which great artists of that time would visit. In one of these visits, Anna falls in love with the writer Angelos Sikelianos and abandons Dr. Karamanis. But even that was not enough to break the tireless scientist.
Sanatorium “Zoodochos Pigi” operated for more than half a century on Pelion, becoming a place of treatment and research.
The site can be visited – anytime – by anyone, starting from the winter retreat in Hania. The road passes through a forest of beech trees, chestnut trees and plenty of water and is a pleasant 30-minute hike, easy for all people.
The site has obvious signs of destruction and abandonment. The time and the indifference of the authorities have played a catalytic role. For many years it has been used by the shepherds of the area as a place of shelter for their herds.
The legal possession of the place has passed to individuals and perhaps soon any sign of a past era will disappear under the foundations of another hotel or luxury restaurant.
It is worth to visit before it gets lost into oblivion.-