Brestovac Sanatorium. While there are various abandoned places with rich histories all over the world, an abandoned tuberculosis complex in the dense forests of Zagreb, Croatia, has a love story behind it.
After its use as a tuberculosis complex and then a military hospital, this building was abandoned. Its only visitors now are urban researchers and paintball players. This forgotten ruin is not far from Sljemenska Road (Sljemenska cesta in Croatian) in the forests around Mount Medvednica.
The love story behind this location happened between a local doctor, Milivoj Dežman, and the Croatian actress named Ljerka Šram. She was known for her excellent acting skills and charming voice while he was also quite well-known in his own city as both a doctor and a playwright.
Dežman and Šram had known each other since childhood as their parents were friends, but then they lost touch after he went to medical school. When Dežman saw Šram in a theater production, he fell in love. But while he was finishing his studies, she married the president of the First Croatian Savings Bank, Aleksander Isakovic.
Despite this setback, Dežman’s feelings remained and when Isakovic disappeared after charges of embezzlement, Dežman offered to take in both Šram and her son. Even though they could never be married, they lived together as a family.
But their happiness was not destined to last. At the end of the 19th century, a terrible misfortune struck when the love of his life fell ill with a serious illness – tuberculosis. At this time, the city was already battling this awful disease and the mortality rate was very high.
Consequently, Milivoj Dežman decided to build a tuberculosis hospital in order to care for – and hopefully cure – Ljerka Šram and others in need. He obtained permission from the city founders to start work on his new clinic.
In 1909, he founded the Sanatorium Brestovac which took the form of a beautiful building on the hill of Mount Medvednica, not far from the city. Dežman chose this location because it was believed that a mountain forest was the ideal place for patients to relax and recover.
Šram was one of the first patients to be admitted. At Sanatorium Brestovac, patients ate well and breathed fresh, clean air.
After Dežman decided to devote all his time to finding a cure for tuberculosis, Sanatorium Brestovac became the first institution in the region specializing in the treatment of tuberculosis. As time went on, it also became one of the best in all of Europe.
Tragically, despite the fact that the sanitorium was one of the best institutions in the world, Dežman was unable to find a cure for tuberculosis and his beloved Ljerka Šram was taken from him in November 1913 at the age of 39.
During the First and Second World Wars, the Sanatorium Brestovac was used as a military hospital. After the war ended, the hospital became an increasingly undesirable place for patients.
As medical advances in the treatment of tuberculosis began to be achieved, the complex became less popular and the building began to decline.
The invention of better medical treatments combined with the deteriorating state of the building led to a decision to close the sanatorium in 1968 forever. Over the following years, the building steadily turned into ruins as nature started taking control of it.
Today, the former sanatorium is a set of ruins in the middle of the forest. Although it stands empty, it is still quite often visited by curious residents and is a favorite location for paintball players.
Despite the fact that the building is heading towards collapse, the interior still has patches of paint on the walls and the windows are still intact. There is also evidence of shower cubicles, benches, and a reception area, all giving visitors a glimpse of life here at the beginning of the last century.
All the photographs were taken by Joel Webb. Check out his Flickr account to find more of the interesting locations he has visited.