It’s supposed to be the most haunted building in Costa Rica, and whether you’re a ghost hunter or a skeptic, I predict it will give you the goosebumps.

If Sanatorio Duran isn’t haunted,
it should be.

Sanatorio Durán is an abandoned old hospital outside Cartago that was used to treat tuberculosis patients between 1918 and 1963. A lot of people died here, many of them children, and there are many creepy tales — and even videos! — of ghosts that still haunt its halls.

Costa-Rica-Haunted-Hospital-Sanatorio Duran Hallway

One of the hallways of the Costa Rica Haunted Hospital- Sanatorio Duran. Photo: Jessie Rowan


One of the more erie sights is the children’s hand prints on the walls.

We’re talking rotting buildings, broken windows, chipping paint, creaky floorboards, spooky stairwells and scary graffiti — in a place where many people took their last raspy breath. If this place isn’t haunted, it should be.

But many people really believe it is haunted. There are longtime reports of an undead monk who visits in the night, of a phantom little girl spotted in the hallways and stairwells, of a ghost in the window of the chapel.


In fact, the Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Hunters International” sent a camera crew here a few years ago, using super-duper ghost-detecting techniques, and they claim to have captured actual video of a dead girl sitting on some steps. (Judge for yourself at and

Costa-Rica-Haunted-Hospital-Sanatorio Duran ghostly-face

Eerie graffiti covers the walls inside, like this ghostly face. Photo: Karl Kahler

In places this complex is like a labyrinth, where it’s easy to get disoriented, unsure which way is out. The blue signs on the walls will not exactly alleviate your anxiety: “CHILDREN’S DORMITORY,” “ISOLATION WARD,” “OPERATING ROOM,” “MORGUE.”

The sanatorium was founded in 1918 by Dr. Carlos Durán Cartín, a physician who served as president of Costa Rica from 1889 to 1890. Durán’s daughter had tuberculosis, for which there was no known treatment at the time, with a mortality rate of about 50 percent.

Costa Rica Haunted Hospital: Sanatorio Duran

Located on the road to Volcán Irazú, the hospital had space for 300 patients. It was believed that the altitude, temperature and humidity were ideal for treating this contagious disease — or maybe the healthy people just wanted to keep them far away.

Costa-Rica-Haunted-Hospital-churchScientists discovered effective treatments for tuberculosis by the 1950s, and Sanatorio Durán was shut down in 1963. Yet it was never demolished or repurposed, and so in the years since it has simply decayed.

Today you’ll be charged a mere 1,200 to visit, and it’s well worth it — an easy day trip from San José.

Just watch out for the rotten floorboards — and the ghosts.

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