Beelitz Heilstätten

by Sara · 27.08.2013 · Architecture, Escapism, Places · 6 comments

How many aban­doned hos­pital will you find in and around Ber­lin, you might ask? Appar­ently deser­ted health resorts and san­it­ari­ums make for bet­ter deser­ted loc­a­tions. Well, every urban explorer is thank­ful for the oppor­tun­ity. As for the Beel­itz Heil­stät­ten, they’re not far away from Ber­lin. Beel­itz, the little town, is fam­ous for its asparagus dur­ing spring­time, but the Heil­stät­ten are prob­ably more fam­ous among those with a camera.

The hos­pital was built in the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tury, back when tuber­cu­losis was a wide­spread and mer­ci­less dis­ease. Due to the need of proper lung treat­ment the Heil­stät­ten near Ber­lin formed the largest hos­pital com­plex of the region. It was easier to cure the dis­ease out­side of the dirty indus­tri­al­ized city. There are about sixty build­ings to it, all spread out over 200 hec­tar. Not all of them are easy to enter, and offi­cially you’d have to book a tour with those respons­ible (or just don’t get caught). It’s sur­roun­ded by a mag­ni­fi­cent forest that makes for a great walk. We were ini­tially on a foray for mush­rooms nearby when we decided to stop at the hos­pital; most of us had never been in there before. It’s amaz­ing, to say the least. You can walk for half an hour without see­ing any­thing, and sud­denly, from between the trees and bushes rises a build­ing that reminds you of the temples of Angkor Wat. It was deser­ted so quickly that trees have star­ted grow­ing on the rooves of the houses.

Aside from being aban­doned and there­fore inter­est­ing the hos­pital is also quite known because Hitler was here for his WWI sus­tained injur­ies. There are a couple of more con­tem­por­ary hor­ror stor­ies that render the whole exped­i­tion rather spooky, like people meet­ing up for cas­ual sex here (like, here? REALLY?!) and mys­ter­i­ously dis­ap­pear­ing (or, you know, get­ting murdered and ditched in the haunted house, BECAUSE LIFE JUST ISN’T SCARY ENOUGH AS IT IS). I wouldn’t even con­sider step­ping inside any of the build­ings in the dark, let alone to cop­u­late. SERIOUSLY WHO DOES THAT?!

So Beel­itz became a mil­it­ary hos­pital dur­ing the first and second World Wars, and if that isn’t eerie enough: dur­ing the Nazi reign it was also used as cage for all sorts of inhu­man exper­i­ments. While strolling through the dark and dirty hall­ways, with all the shattered glass on the ground and the graf­fiti on the walls, I ima­gined what it must have seemed like only sixty years ago. It prob­ably looked harm­less, even pretty. It must have smelled of dis­in­fect­ant, like most hos­pit­als do. There’d be a very calm atmo­sphere… and then, some­where in the base­ment, lots of killed and abused and tor­tured people who didn’t even know what was hap­pen­ing to them. Super creepy.

After WWII the hos­pital was taken by the Rus­si­ans and became the largest Sovjet mil­it­ary treat­ment facil­ity out­side of the moth­er­land til 94. You’d think it’s not that long ago — what, not even ten years and it already looks like nature took back everything man-made in a second. The decay is amaz­ing to look at although I sus­pect I was a little late to the game already (a couple of months ago I saw pic­tures in which some of the rooms were still halfway intact, so this sum­mer must have been a blast for those van­dal­iz­ing and steal­ing from the interior). When the Rus­si­ans left, not many people were inter­ested in re-investing in the build­ing. Since most of them are monu­ment pro­tec­ted it’s going to be very costly to put the hos­pital back into work. There are, in fact, some small parts of the com­plex still used for neur­o­lo­gical research and rehab­il­it­a­tion but we didn’t pass those. The major­ity of the hos­pital has been left and some­times its still used — aside from hor­rific blind dates — as film­ing sets. The city has suc­cess­fully sold the premises to a buyer who is allegedly try­ing to make a new health resort out of it, but there are no signs of pro­gress yet. 

  1. Amaz­ing pic­tures! On a side note: did you pick mush­rooms? any sug­ges­tions for pick­ing them in the area? How do you recog­nize edible ones?

  2. Hey there, well there haven’t been any mush­rooms. We tried our luck but alas, no dice. It’s really not my thing to be hon­est and I have no idea how to recog­nize the edible once. I think it takes a life­time to get good at it ;)

What others had to say about it

  1. […] Beel­itz Heil­stat­ten ligon­inė — apleis­tos ligon­inės kom­pleksas. Ligon­inė buvo pastatyta XX amži­uje, kai buvo pap­litus tuberkuliozė. Kom­pleksas pastatytas net ant 200 hek­tarų žemės, todėl pamatyti tikrai yra ką. Ligon­inė garsi ir tuo, kad joje buvo gydo­mas Hitleris, kai patyrė daug sužei­dimų per 1-ąjį Pasaul­inį karą. […]

  2. […] This com­plex star­ted as a mil­it­ary hos­pital dur­ing WWII and was con­tinu­ally used by Rus­si­ans until its aban­don­ment in the 1990s. For more pho­tos and info, click here. […]

  3. […] graf­fitis, the rubble and rub­bish, even the doc­u­ments scattered around. Whether it’s a creepy hos­pital or a lost embassy, it’s. all. the. same. to. […]

  4. […] in the early 20th cen­tury, the Beelitz-Heilstätten hos­pital com­plex is made up of about 60 build­ings and was ori­gin­ally con­ceived as a san­at­orium. It was thought that […]