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Abona Sanatorium Francoism style of architecture mixed with the neo- Canarian style look

Abona Sanatorium

Abades, Canary Islands, Spain
ARCHITECTS NAME: José Enrique Marrero Regalado


  • SPACE TYPE: Sanatorium


Tags: healthcare, hospital, Spain, Totally Lost 2015

The “Sanatorio de Abona”, also known as “Leprosería de Arico” is located near the village of Abades, in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands.

After the Spanish Civil War an outbreak of leprosy affected the island of Tenerife, with 197 cases reported by 1940. In those days it was believed that the solution to this medical problem was the isolation of the affected in areas with favorable weather conditions and far from major population centers to prevent contagion.

Spanish architect José Enrique Marrero Regalado was tasked to design the project of the sanatorium. The initial project, which was not followed exactly, contemplates the existence of several separate sections for health and disease by sex. The area of the patients had canteens, services, hospital, recreational spaces and the part used for residence, where the church and the schools were.

Marrero Regalado developed the project always within the parameters of the Francoism style of architecture mixed with the neo- Canarian style look. Among the more than thirty buildings, particularly striking is the huge concrete cross that crowned the church, but do not forget the enormous importance of the Catholic Church in the Franco’s regime, whose ideology is called by historians as “National-Catholicism”.

Today we can see buildings with varying degrees of completion. There are some finished areas, but others remained only in structure as the works were suspended because in the late forties a new drug against leprosy began to be used very effectively.

The leprosarium never receives any patient. It was abandoned and began its slow decline. In the sixties it was used to carry out the “Falange” (the sole legal party of the Francoist dictatorship) training camps. After that its use was as a military cantonment for target practice. The military were placed in the finished part, which would be aimed at not sick, and we can still see the remains of circuit wire surrounding the perimeter.

Text by Daniel Sánchez

Ph. Joakim Berndes

Ph. Joakim Berndes

CONTRIBUTOR: Joakim Berndes, Annabarbara Gysel and Daniel Sánchez