There are plenty of moldy ruins in Berlin and you’ve probably seen them all. Spreepark, Eisfabrik, Teufelsberg– if anything, those abandoned places are deeply integrated into the usual tourist excursions through the city . They all look the same after a while. Trash and graffiti, trash and graffiti, trash and graffiti. That said, it’s still a very spooky adventure if you end up in an abandoned place that you haven’t heard about (my bad).
So apparently there once used to be a childrens and womens hospital in Neukölln. The first building, a proud Altbau, is right in sight when you’re on Mariendorfer Weg. It’s gloomy and stately and has the air of a very important, albeit forgotten building. I found out it it was build right after WWI. But there’s another, additional, rather ugly building attached to the back of the hospital — another hospital, sprung right out of the sixties or seventies. Both complexes have been shut down 2005 and are now being digested by mother nature.
Obviously, nobody is willing to buy this place– even though it’s beautiful. I figured there must be a reason and a quick search revealed that the Altbau is under monument protection which means that all those foreign investors can’t just tear everything down and build up luxury apartments. So the city is still waiting for a sovereign buyer (instead of, say, giving it away to the people who are willing to refurbish the whole thing and use it as cultural space; then again, I haven’t heard or seen anyone asking for it, so maybe I’m going too far). In the meantime, it’s pretty easy to trespass the area. I should mention that it’s “not” possible (depending how far you’re going to take your innocent stroll) to break and enter into the Altbau. It’s camera surveilled and the doors are locked. We found an obvious path (that we didn’t use because we’re chicken) that has been used before by clever artists and probably also homeless people, but we opted for the safer routine and went into the super ugly Neubau only.
There we enjoyed the creepy atmosphere of an abandoned hospital without discovering anything new — graffiti and trash, some BBQ leftovers, and even a designated “toilet area” (seriously) hinted at permanent residents. I think I saw someone shaking their covers out of the window above me. Not sure I’d want to live here…
As I said, we didn’t enter the much more interesting Altbau. It’s probably all rotten and I’d be scared to death about falling through the floor and breaking my neck. But I’ve promised myself to return and try to get in anyway– it’s just that thing about abandoned places. Although they all look the same, strolling through the rubble always feels like you’re part of an apocalyptic scenario right out of the movies..