Travel Inspiration  •  ,

Sanatorio de Abona: an abandoned Leper village in Tenerife, Spain

December 5, 2016

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Leprosy was once a major disease in Tenerife, with thousands dying each year. In 1943 a leprosy village was built near a coastal town of Abades. Now the station, along with its hospital, church and crematorium, is abandoned… but was it ever used?

The thing is, in 1945 a cure for leprosy was developed, an antibiotic called Dapsone. Leprosy, once the most dreadful of illnesses, was no more. The construction of a leper village didn’t make sense anymore so the buildings in Abades were just left half-finished. The monumental, Franco-style chapel, the hospital, the wards and the crematoriums: all of that is still standing, untouched, but never even used by the sick.

For the past 70 years Abades has grown, turning into a small resort. The Sanatorio still towers above the town but it’s mainly used by urban explorers and graffiti artists on holidays in Tenerife. There were some plans for the abandoned leper village, including building a golf course or a hotel but none of them worked out, which probably irritates the townsfolk of Abades but honestly, doesn’t Tenerife have enough golf courses? Sanatorio is a reminder of Tenerife’s past, completely unknown and ignored by the modern tourists but this past is fascinating nonetheless.


Sanatorio de Abona’s area is now littered with trash which looks like it was left there by the tourists to make the place more “authentic”. You’ll find writing machines, shoes, dolls and all the other crap you’ve seen on pictures from Chernobyl. There’s also quite a lot of graffiti but it doesn’t really make the place less fun to explore. It’s also a cool place for a photo shoot or a movie.

Exploring Sanatorio de Abona is quite easy and you should totally go for it if you like abandoned places. Reaching Abades by car is quite easy (just take the South Tenerife highway TF-1), the leper village is open and unguarded, you will easily find it as it’s visible from everywhere in Abades. I would say that the place is perfectly safe for exploring, no one lives there and the village is very close so you don’t need to worry. Oh, and Abades itself is also quite a cool place, it’s a small village with low prices and nice people!

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Inside the abandoned church

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The unfinished church of the village

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Inside one of the wards

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