The little sanatorium girl of Parnitha

Background: The informant stated that she had a personal encounter with a deceased little girl who she believes she is the same person of the urban legend of the little girl of Parnitha (suburb in northern Athens, Greece). She first heard of the legend from the mother who would warn her not to wonder around that area alone. According to informant, she was fascinated by the story of the Parnitha’s little girl and wished she could meet her one day. This personal experience didn’t affect the informant as the encounter with the little girl was uneventful. It imprinted, however, a vivid memory and led the informant to question later as an adult, the existence of the tormented and unrested deceased girl.  

EE:This is an old legend. I can’t even remember when. It was,  I think, the story starts around 1914. You know, it starts with the story of the sanatorium. It was the church, I don’t remember the name, maybe, oh, I know Petraki, the monastery of Petraki that donated acres to build the sanatorium. It was the deadliest of times, couldn’t even say the name,  because it was so scary, the tuberculosis and everyone thought of it as a death sentence. People didn’t know how to help , I mean didn’t know of any treatment. There was nothing anyone could do, were left to die, they tried to keep them from infecting , you know the rest. But too many died, among them children. What could they do? No antibiotics to give , it was in the 60s that,  there were antibiotics and tuberculosis was cured. But this sanatorium,  they didn’t demolish it.   And I always wanted to go and look and play. Broken chairs and mattresses and everything that remained , we liked to explore. But the legend , we knew about the legend and didn’t stop us. And others were talking about it all, and about the girl dressed  in white  and the cold drafts and the screaming voices at night. But in the 60s, I think it was 1964,  I was, mmm, about 15 years old, or maybe a couple of years older, I won’t reveal my age (informant laughing)  and then, you know , we wouldn’t listen to our parents any more. It was one day after Christina’s birthday, Christina was my best friend, that we decided to go.  After the sun came down , in the darkness ,  we walked to the “Well of the Lady” to find the little girl. Because legend has it that she will appear after the sun sets. But didn’t see anything and we start laughing. Bored , we couldn’t stay , we had to get home. It was late. But when getting further from the “Well of the Lady”, I heard crying , and when I turned I saw a little girl, crying,  asking to drink water but she was far from the “well”. The faster I run  towards her, the more she fainted and I couldn’t see or find her. But,  I am certain I saw her, I heard her, I saw the blue ribbon around her waist. 

Me: Who do you believe was the little girl? 

She was, she was the unban legend of the little girl, very sick,  that died in her way to the “well” from the sanatorium to drink the healing waters. She believed that the water of the “well” would heal her. But she was too sick with tuberculosis, too sick. Left her last breath, trying to reach the healing waters of the “well”. I know it was her. She  looked exactly like the urban legend,  dressed in white and her blue ribbon. I couldn’t forget her blue ribbon and her cries.  

Me:  Did anyone else see her? 

EE: None of my friends saw her

Me: Why do you think they didn’t see her or hear her?

EE: She was crying for help. Who do you ask for help? My friends didn’t believe in the legend. Maybe,  I don’t know. Maybe ghosts are , they sense , I mean they know to whom to present themselves.  This girl was asking for help , maybe she sensed I could help her to get her to the well or I don’t know. I don’t know.  

Me: Do you think many people believe in the existence of the little sanatorium girl that appears at the “Well of the Lady” in the area of Parnitha? 

EE: Yes. Its  a legend. There is a history. After the sanatorium closed down, they tried to built a hotel . Named “Xenia” I think. But failed , bankruptcy. And then came , the government tried to open a school but it closed too.  And nothing could , I mean nothing good could come out of this place. Many have seen the little girl but I haven’t met any of them. 

Me: Did you share your experience with your parents back then? 

EE: I didn’t. They wouldn’t had believe me.  And I didn’t  want to get in trouble. These were other times. You either obeyed your parents or you would’ve been in big trouble (informant laughing).   

Me: What makes you believe that your mother who had told you about this legend wouldn’t had believed you? 

EE: I don’t think she believed it herself. Our parents could , you know, try to make us do things  without explaining . Fear was good. She thought if I get scared I would do or not do what she wanted.

Context: This piece was collected via a zoom meeting

Thoughts: It is interesting that the informant grew with this legend and although she  suspected that her mother used it as the means to scare her to obey her, she grew to have the one experience that contradicts this belief. The informant grew with this story and knew exactly how the little sanitarium girl    looked like. The fact the her friends didn’t see or hear anything that night may be interpreted as proof that the legend is passed on as the means to honor and remember the people, especially young children who suffered a horrible death due to a deadly disease so easily cured with the use of antibiotics a few decades  later.  Since the informant didn’t mention that she knows of any others who have seen the little girl with the blue ribbon around her waist,  I wonder if she just saw what she was expecting to see or hoped. The area is covered with dense trees which makes it very difficult to see things clearly even at daytime. Her vivid image of the little girl, dressed in white, with the detail of the blue ribbon around her waist, seen in the darkness, amidst  dense vegetation makes me skeptical. Or maybe, ghosts do choose to appear to the living with a more open mind and heart. Since it is an urban legend, I wonder if there could had been more confirmed sightings of people who had indeed a personal encounter with the Parnitha sanatorium little girl but are no longer living to confirm these sightings.