Hania - The first mountain sanatorium in Greece
The first mountain sanatorium for tuberculosis patients in Greece and the first preventorium (preventive treatment institution for children) were both founded in Pelion.
The creator of the sanatorium was Dr Georgios Karamanis (1873-1964). Born and raised in the village of Drakeia, he attended the Medical School of the University of Athens. Before the establishment of the sanatorium, Karamanis practiced medicine in his hometown for thirteen years.
His venture was bold and innovative for its time. Athens had just acquired its own sanatorium, known today as "Sotiria", which began its operation in 1905 on the initiative of Sophia Schliemann. Just two years later, in 1907, Karamanis founded the "Zoodochos Pigi" sanatorium at an altitude of 1200 meters very close to the settlement of Chania.
The first building was a small inn with only two rooms. Within just a few years, the hospital had 50 beds. Karamanis' fight against people’s prejudices was continuous and cruel, as the inhabitants of the nearby villages, as well as of Volos, reacted to his attempt for fear of contracting the disease.
In the fifty years of its operation, the sanatorium of Pelion witnessed many stories, not only of pain and struggle for survival, but also of love and betrayal. In 1939, Karamanis’ wife, Anna, left him to marry the poet Angelos Sikelianos, whom she had met the previous year at the sanatorium, where he had been accommodated as a guest.
The Second World War was devastating to the facility. On August 6, 1942, the electricity generator was blown up by the Italians and on September 16, 1943, the main wings of the sanatorium were bombed by the Germans.
In 1946-1947, following an agreement with the Jewish Charitable Organization of America Joint, tuberculous Jews from Greece and the concentration camps of Germany were treated at the sanatorium.
In 1951, Karamanis had to take a large loan from the National Bank of Greece to rebuild the premises. Although the sanatorium resumed normal operations, financial difficulties led to bankruptcy in 1960.
Today, Greece's first mountain sanatorium stands humbled in the forest.