Park of Souls – Acharnes, Greece - Atlas Obscura

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Park of Souls

After a catastrophic forest fire, a Greek artist transformed scorched tree trunks outside an old sanatorium into this haunting sculpture garden. 

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Just north of Athens, high on Mount Parnitha, a number of haunting wooden sculptures stand outside the grounds of an abandoned sanatorium. The outdoor exhibition brings together the tragic history of the mountaintop site: the devastating effects of tuberculosis and a catastrophic forest fire.

In the early 20th century, tuberculosis decimated the population of Greece. The Parnitha Sanatorium was built in the 1930s to replace a smaller facility that originally stood on the mountain.  The sunshine and crisp mountain air were thought to aid in recovery. By the 1940s and 50s, improvements in medicine reduced the demand for these kinds of facilities, and the sanatorium on Mount Parnitha shut down. For a time the building was repurposed, first as a hotel and then as an educational facility, but it had fallen out of use by the mid-80s and was abandoned.

In 2007, a series of forest fires broke out across Greece. One of those fires led to some 38,000 acres of burnt area on Mount Parnitha, including the area around the Parnitha Sanatorium. Inspired by the history of the Parnitha Sanatorium, and the fire-scorched landscape Greek sculptor Spyridon Dassiotis chose the space opposite the imposing facility to create the Park of Souls. 

He gave “life” to dead tree trunks, carving 20 sculptures of people into the burnt tree trunks that remained after the 2007 fire.  aiming to express the feelings of the people in the sanatorium during the period of their confinement.

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