In the early 1890s, Grand Duke Georgy Alexandrovich, a younger brother of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, moved into a villa not far from the hospital’s later site in hopes that the area’s sub-alpine setting, climate and hot springs would help cure his tuberculosis. Abastumani consequently became something of a fashionable health resort.
Buildings from Abastumani’s Romanov era, bearing the marks of their age, still stand throughout the village.
The atmosphere of these structures, trapped between past and present, appears to fascinate some hospital patients, who can find their own lives put on hold for months or years at a time as they seek treatment.
A decrepit stone building, with peeling paint and un-weeded steps, the hospital, at first glance, could appear to many almost like a prison. “Put a mask on” are the words with which all visitors are greeted.
Inside, only 70 of the facility’s 200 rooms are in working order, according to Doctors Without Borders. Overall, it houses approximately 100 patients.