It’s said Carlos Durán Cartín, a Costa Rican doctor and politician, opened this tuberculosis hospital in 1918 hoping to treat his own daughter who was suffering from the disease. He chose a remote location complete with good weather, fresh air, and natural light.
Despite Cartín’s efforts to treat his daughter, she died from tuberculosis. The sanatorium continued to function after her death. It was staffed mostly by nuns, the Sisters of Charity Santa Anna. It’s said their ghosts—and the ghosts of the children who died at the sanatorium—still linger on the grounds. The hospital also housed those being treated for mental health.
By the 1960s, tuberculosis was no longer an epidemic or a threat. The sanatorium’s mental health patients were transferred to better facilities, and the building went on to serve as an orphanage and then a prison. The facilities closed in the 1970s after the Irazú Volcano erupted and ruined parts of the complex.
Today, you can explore the old sanatorium. Signs mark bathrooms, the morgue, doctors’ quarters, the children’s wing, and more. Knowing the suffering and sickness that took place here gives it a sad and eerie feel, especially when looking out the hospital windows on a sunny day.
Know Before You Go
The sanatorium is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. There is a small entrance fee. You can get here by bus, car, or hire a taxi/private tour.