A: Abandoned Leprosy Colony. Arico Ghost Town, Tenerife, Spain (April 2012)

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After the Spanish Civil War was over, one of the most serious health problems of that era was leprosy; Tenerife had 197 cases of this stigmatised illness. In those times it was believed that isolation in certain climatic conditions well away from the main population was the only solution, to avoid contagion.

The initial project, which didn't follow the plans with any accuracy, thought about using several sections separated for the healthy and sick by sexes. The sick area included dining rooms, bathrooms, a main hospital area, recreation spaces and a part was destined for residential use, where there was a church and schools.

The architectural style was neo-canario monumental, but always working within the parameters of the pro-Franco style of the post-war period. The huge importance of the Catholic church in Franco's regime was reflected in the enormous cross which crowned the church, expressed in the ideology of the state that historians call national-Catholicism.

Work on the buildings started and was left in different stages of completion. Some areas are finished but others remain in their structural stages. Work was suspended in the forties when cures for leprosy were found, and it was considered that patients would be better off in their own homes.

The great leper colony of Arico never received one sick patient. It remained abandoned and began its slow deterioration. In the sixties it was used as a military camp belonging to the Falange which was obligatory at that time for everyone, entitled la Escuela de Magisterio, but was best know as a military station for shooting practice. Soldiers were housed in the finished buildings and remains of the wired circuit surrounding its perimeter can still be seen.

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Jan 8, 2011
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Pembrokeshire, SW Wales.
Wonderful report, clarity in abundance. Pity they've stopped making "Spaghetti Westerns" too otherwise the place might get a temporary life as a film set.

The pix do one thing : dispel the old joke about Spanish "jerry built" housing. Look how strong that shell of the church is!

Reference photo #1. When my parents bought a holiday "villa" roughly twenty years ago near Alicante on a "toretta" the houses being built opposite them looked so much like those staggered buildings in that photo.

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