Anything But Paella

Aguas de Busot

Aguas de Busot has a rich history as a luxury hotel and later as a sanatorium. Nowadays it is a crumbling wreck and sadly only suitable for one thing. Urbex – urban exploration – is not for everyone and is done at your own risk. Just 25km inland from Alicante, this relic of a bygone age is well worth a bit of urban exploration if that’s your thing.

Preventorio Aguas de Busot

Whilst most access points to the building are sealed off, one remains open at the side. It is possible to explore the ground floor but all the stairways seem to have been removed or blocked up. It’s probably for the best as I shudder to think what it would be like inside with the slightest earth tremor. Parts of the floor are missing too so be careful where you tread if you choose to venture inside. There is some pretty cool graffiti adorning the walls both inside and out, but as previously stated, this type of urban exploration is completely at your own risk.

Once upon a time this sad old building was grandiose and full of life, as you can see from the video below, allegedly dating back to 1935. The building itself was known as the Miramar Hotel and may have been constructed as early as 1816. Almost a century later it was certainly a fine place to rest as borne out by this 1912 description: “there were large dining rooms overlooking the sea, renowned wineries and kitchens, luxury rooms, and all with magnificent views, richly furnished private apartments, with improved bathrooms and toilets, large hall, large and small salons, hairdressing salon, illuminated by electricity, central heating and other accessories of a first order establishment ”.

In 1936 it was acquired by the Spanish government and turned into a sanatorium dedicated to the prevention of tuberculosis in children. The eradication of the disease in the 1960s saw the building fall into disrepair and despite several plans to rejuvenate what would be a classic hotel, it continues to crumble away with the only visitors being the curious urban explorers. A pipe dream of 2010 was to turn it into a spa resort but obviously that never happened!

This 1954 testimony translated from this blog does not sound too welcoming though.

“Long, gloomy and uncertain corridors (it was not known where they ended up, since many accesses were forbidden to children). The perception was that of a gloomy maze in which one should not venture. They always walked in a row. It was only boys. The bedroom windows remained open, even at night. The cold forced them to wear old plush shirts. It was common to have chilblains due to the low temperatures. To go to the toilet, you had to request toilet paper from another child who had the responsibility to administer it with moderation and then give an account of it. Almost no one went to the toilets at night because of the fear of walking alone through corridors and hallways. The dining rooms were on the ground floor and natural light was scarce so it was complemented by electric light. Children who urinated in bed for fear of leaving their rooms at night, were exposed in the classroom, after breakfast the next day, wrapped in their corresponding wet sheets. Then, at lunchtime, they were put together and apart on the same table (the smell of urine was overwhelming). The children’s money was managed by an employee and there were very strict rules for it (no child could ask for their own money beyond what was established). Normally it was to buy materials for manual work and correspondence (envelopes, stamps, threads, cartons, cellophane, glue, etc). Family visits were very scarce. The nuns were very strict, especially one, Sister Transit. She humiliated children the most, regardless of their age. I do not believe that many children died, since that site was preventative and not a centre for the seriously or terminally ill. There was a sustained vigilance on the evolution of children’s health. The medical program was strictly fulfilled. No physical exercise. Depending on the level of health of the small patients, they were known as “pocho”, “pocho-relative”, “relative”, “relative-alta” and “alta”. Upon reaching this level, the children returned to their homes. “

There are plenty of easy hiking routes in the surrounding area too. You can climb up to get some magnificent views of the coast or simply admire the beautiful flowers that grow all around. The PR-CV 243 footpath runs in a loop from nearby Aigues around the hill above the sanatorium and will take a few hours to naviagate at around 10km long.

We had a brief stop in Aigues. The main street leading to the church is pedestrianised and full of bars and cafes. What a shame it wasn’t lunchtime, but it certainly looks well worth your while scheduling your visit accordingly!

As with any abandoned building, there are myths and legends galore. It is supposed to be haunted by several ghosts. If your Spanish is up to it, here’s a fascinating documentary made by some ghost finders. It’s a bit creepy at about 35 minutes!

Several websites proved very useful in trying to find out information about Aguas de Busot. There are conflicting dates and stories but I have tried to give you the basics as best I can. If you want to read the others (in Spanish) I will list them here:

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