Friday, July 1, 2016

Abandoned Russian Sanatorium

Irkutsk, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia

I had been talking to Dima a few weeks before we went to Irkutsk. I told him I was really interested in street art and abandoned places. He told me about this former sanatorium that closed only a few years ago. I have a horrible memory so either I forgot or just didn't realize how big this place actually was. As a former resort, it housed multiple buildings; all abandoned.

Sanatoriums themselves are very interesting. In the USSR, they were both recreational and medical facilities. It was believed that a person would be a better worker if they went to one of these sanatoriums. A worker could receive tickets from their employers to stay at one of the many sanatoriums across the USSR. Although this one is closed, they still exist today in former USSR countries.

This place was closed in 2009 due to bankruptcy. It looks like people just up and left. You can still find documents and personal information of the people who stayed there. Unfortunately, it is in terrible condition now with people looting and vandalizing everything. Dima said it is completely different from the first time he visited. It's very unfortunate that people can't leave it how they found it. This place is actually in an area with plenty of dachas, but we didn't come to destroy anything so I wasn't nervous about them seeing us.
The administration building

The first building we went into was the canteen. I think this building was my favorite one on the property. I loved the large windows in the entry way. In one of my pictures you can see the hand-carved wooden poles in the center. Unfortunately, most of them were destroyed.

Dima tried to get us to go into the basement, but I was too much of a wimp to do that. I blame American Horror Story: Asylum. When we left the canteen we did find an open door to the basement. I did step in that door and looked around, but it was really cold and dark. Dima did some digging around while we waited outside and brought up some administrative books and old bottles he found. Apparently the rooms in the basement were filled with this stuff.

The next building we went into was the former movie theater. It was completely destroyed, which was really sad. There was a piano that no longer worked and all the seats were missing. We later found some seats in other buildings. We also came across some old film strips and movie magazines. One magazine pictured below was from 1989 (the year I was born) and was in really good condition.

After we looked around the cinema we headed down the path to the bay. Cottages lined the path, and it reminded me of my summer working at Maranatha. There were locals laying out by the bay. It seemed they were still trying to use the area because the deck going out into the water was repaired so it would be safe to walk on. The water was so blue and clear you could see tons of fish swimming around. Dima told us that the first time he came there they met an older man with a camera who told them about the history of the sanatorium. Dima gave us a lot of information about the place as well.

The next building we went to was the former library, dentist office, and massage room. Dima said that the previous times he went there were so many library books on the floor you couldn't even see the ground. There weren't so many this time. It seems people take them every time they come. Hopefully, they are going to better use than just collecting dust and mold on the floor.

We thought about going into some of the cabins but decided against it. I think we were really tired and we knew we probably wouldn't see much. Also, a lot of the stairs were falling apart because the place has been left abandoned for so long. Dima mentioned that they place probably won't stay abandoned for much longer because they property is very good and expensive. I hope that's true. I would have loved to go there while it was still functioning. Russia isn't known for it's resort towns, so I don't know if this place will ever gain the foreign attraction it deserves, but maybe you'll consider it if you are looking to invest in something.
What do you think?


  1. This is so cool! I love the little houses. What a cool place to explore.

    1. I know! We were too tired to walk through the houses though. Kind of wish we did.

  2. Wow, thank you for sharing these pics. Even in broad daylight, they're a bit eerie. It's not the ruin that's shocking- it's the bits and pieces that still look good amidst what remains.

    Did you end up keeping that magazine?

    PS: Also, your pics remind me of Nizhny Novgorod a little. People say Kharkiv is ugly and Nizhny is beautiful, but I'm not sure about that. Nizhny is 400 years older than Kharkiv... and looks every minute of it!

    1. I know. It was super eerie during the day. I can't even imagine how scary it would be at night.

      My friend actually kept the magazine! She speaks Russian so she'd get more use out of it.

      A lot of Russians say they like Nizny Novgorod because it's old. I haven't been to either so I can't really say! :)


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