Exploring Beelitz-Heilstätten (de) – TalkUrbex.com Euro Road Trip

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 22.07.2010

Getting off the plane at Schiphol (NL) I was greeted in the airport from my good friend Frits, we drove through Amsterdam, got food then back to Frit’s to meet up with fellow explorers and friends, Bas van Duijn and Jeremy Gibbs. After loading the car, we were off in a mixture of gas station stops and caffeine.

Following a 6 hour drive through the night from Holland to Germany, we arrived in the middle of the large hospital complex, Beelitz-Heilstätten. Getting out of the car we were greeted with the most amazing architectural buildings, each building was a significant size and the site went on for what seemed like forever.

Beelitz Admin Block

Beelitz-Heilstätten Admin block sunrise

Some history:

Beelitz-Heilstätten, a district of the town, is home to a large hospital complex of about 60 buildings including a co-generation plant erected from 1898 on according to plans of architect Heino Schmieden. Originally designed as a sanatorium by the Berlin workers’ health insurance corporation, the complex from the beginning of World War I on was a military hospital of the Imperial German Army. During October and November 1916, Adolf Hitler recuperated at Beelitz-Heilstätten after being wounded in the leg at the Battle of the Somme. In 1945, Beelitz-Heilstätten was occupied by Soviet forces, and the complex remained a Soviet military hospital until 1995, well after the German reunification. In December 1990 Erich Honecker was admitted to Beelitz-Heilstätten after being forced to resign as the head of the East German government.

Following the Soviet withdrawal, attempts were made to privatize the complex, but they were not entirely successful. Some sections of the hospital remain in operation as a neurological rehabilitation centre and as a centre for research and care for victims of Parkinsons disease. The remainder of the complex, including the surgery, the psychiatric ward, and a rifle range, was abandoned in 2000. As of 2007, none of the abandoned hospital buildings or the surrounding area were secured, giving the area the feel of a ghost town. This has made Beelitz-Heilstätten a destination for curious visitors and a film set for movies like The Pianist from 2002 (1)

We made it into the first building as the sun was rising and started shooting immediately – every angle of the buildings architecture had an angle worth shooting. Making our way through the building we noticed the area’s that other people had shot and posted on-line.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - The Enchanted Room

Beelitz-Heilstätten - staircase

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Small Auditorium

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Medical Treatment Rooms

The thing that really struck as about Beelitz-Heilstätten was the size, quality and sheer complexity of the buildings and underground structure. All of the buildings are linked via underground service tunnels. The sanatoriums build quality was excellent, amazing architectural design and amazing attention to detail inside.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - External Shot

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Getting Dark Outside

After exploring the first building, we made our way out and went to check into our accommodation – none of us really wanted to leave Beelitz however Bas forgot his tripod so we travel out to Potsdam and found a camera shop.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Lightening and Rain

Back to Beelitz-Heilstätten, which is almost empty however in some parts of the underground you will find artefacts dated back to when the sanatorium was live but for the most, you will see hallways and rooms in their naked beauty.

Was not long before we stumbled across one of the most shot rooms in the Beelitz complex, the operating theatre! This was trashed but still maintained some honour. We looked around, in a hole in the wall I found cloths soaked in what I hope was imitation blood, hanging all over were drip bags – eerie and cool!

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Operating Theatre

We traversed the underground network and moved from building to building, every turn produced another amazing angle.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Underground

We then found the Beelitz ruins, I do not know of the history of this and despite some research I’ve yet to learn what happened (if you know, please contact me so I can update this article – thx). From the outside you will see an extremely large and significantly decayed building, inside looks like extreme fire damage. The photos cannot put into perspective the size of this place. We viewed the many hallways and floors witnessing the same style flooring tiles however a slightly different architectural style seemed to have been used.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - The Ruins in the rain

Nothing exists in the ruins, only history, a strange silence and many images to take. We found the staircase that is featuring on the new Urbex Book produced by Jeremy Gibbs so we each took our unique shots and carried on.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Grand Hall

Heading out of the ruins we grabbed some externals and walked over the the other part of the site. Beelitz-Heilstätten is spread across a large site either side of main road. In the side we have explored we had seen admin wards, operating theatres, kitchens, under ground complex, cells/wards and many other beautiful scenes, we were privileged to have witnessed this but we had much more to see

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Decayed Auditorium

We went over to explore the Bath House, Berlin was just recovering from -10degC temperatures and we noticed something we have never experienced before. We entered the basement of the bathhouse to be greeted with what suspect was an immediate 10-12degC temperature drop, the walls covered in ice and each breath almost freezing. Whilst the outsides has almost thawed, the basements would take weeks to stabilise in temperature.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Amazing Architecture

Covering a complex of tunnels, holes in walls and underground chambers we arrived in the Bathhouse. For some reason I did not take a shot of the actual bath however its a massive domed tall room with a single small bath in the middle, enough for perhaps 2 people

Continuing on we found the most amazing staircases and entrance halls which led to large hall type rooms with detailed architecture, one of them looked like a play hall. The large building overlooked a grassed area with a statue in the middle, directly opposite the building was a similar sized building and to the right, an even larger building which we suspected to be the sports hall.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Light Falling over the Staircase

Meeting up with other explorers is always good, we had arranged to meet up with Batram and Ill Padrino. At the meeting point we exchanged greetings and made our way over to another complex where we had all seen the photos of the ‘blue staircase’. There were cars outside and as Frits started walking in, an angry photographer shouted loudly to get out – some sort of ‘other’ photo shoot was going on inside, this photo shoot was not focused on the abandoned building.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Alone

Heading back around to the grassed statue area, we looked to hit up the complex that stands in front of the live neurological unit. There seemed to be no way into this place, however after some time in the network of tunnels, we finally found a way in.

This building was amazing, corridors that go on forever, beautiful staircases and décor. Batram showed us some documents he found hidden away in a void behind the wall. Dr. Crazy made a guest appearance as we got together some prop work.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Prop work, Frits Vrielink and ill Padrino

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Large Hall

We continued through the rooms and corridors before finishing at the ‘Whitney Houston’ stage. This is strange, a grand hall with stage, apparently its written due to some performing arts group or something. Anyway, its become iconic of Beelitz and was good to shoot

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Whitney Housten Hall

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Whitney Housten Stage

And after some discussion, we headed out to sample what we had been discussing from a few months back.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - The Caretaker

I was told that Beelitz has the best tasting pancakes, well, in Europe. I like pancakes and finally, we were here – sitting in Beelitz-Heilstätten, cameras, beer, pancakes and damn, everyone that had ever told me about them were right – the best tasting pancakes for sure…

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Best Pancakes in Europe

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Frits Vrielink, ill Padrino, Batram and RomanyWG studying the exploration plan

Supplies were needed so we headed out to get food/drink etc then headed straight back to Beelitz-Heilstätten to meet up with Batram and Ill Padrino again, this time to find the ‘brain chair’. It had started to get dark when we went in however found it and got some shots of Frits going crazy in there – RomanyWG has the video stashed away somewhere.

From here, we headed back to our sleeping location however stopped on the way to check out some abandoned railway station. When we arrived, we saw two taggers go running for the woods. We got to work looking for entrance points, found a way in underground however came up against a large steel door. Something interesting was a chair, in a small room with cable ties around the back of it like someone had been cuffed in there?

We got out and found another way in, Frits took the lead whilst I kept watch – all Frits found was a bunch of bats living in there. We ate, drank and talked about the next days plans (Krampnitz, Schloss, Grabowsee).

Last day, time is flying and we decided to get up before light, pack up and spend the rest of the day finishing off Beelitz-Heilstätten. We wend back to the complex where we got kicked out, found our way in and started shooting the sports hall.

Beelitz-Heilstätten - TalkUrbex.com Crew: Bas van Duijn, sophos9, RomanyWG and Frits Vrielink

The blue staircase was ours alone this time, we kept shooting whilst the sun rose outside and filled the building with golden rays – a Beelitz sunrise is something for sure. We shared laughs, photos and then the inevitable came, all good things have to come to an end

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Ghostly Lit Reception

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Welcome to Beelitz

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Ein lauschiges platzchen zum vogeln

We packed up and hit the road for the trip across Germany back into Holland to get the flight back to the UK. This was the best, and worst exploration I’ve been on. The best is frickin awesome friends, locations, food and beer however its sheer scale of derelict buildings and beautiful architecture has tainted what the UK has on offer…

Only one thing for it 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the read



Full set of photos in my flickr


#1Viveca KohJuly 22, 2010, 8:47 pm

Great report and excellent photographs – you have made me really, REALLY want to go here!

    #2sophos9July 22, 2010, 8:56 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. Beelitz is amazing, it holds so many great memories. Unfortunately there has been some recent accidents/deaths – Beelitz has been officially locked down with on site security/police. Its so big, I’m sure there will still be access =)

#3BasJuly 23, 2010, 7:12 am

Awesome write up dude! A kickass time!

#4sophos9July 23, 2010, 7:41 am

Hell yea Bas, for sure – great experience dude…

#5SuspiciousMindsJuly 23, 2010, 10:43 am

Great report guys!

#6Lusker 41July 29, 2010, 8:17 am

Very cool Set as allways great work on the processing and details Sophus….

    #7sophos9July 29, 2010, 8:28 am

    Thanks lusker dude, was a great time – really enjoyed that place 🙂

#8danNovember 9, 2010, 3:21 am

The photos are amazing.. Great write up as well. I’d love to make it out to europe someday. It seems as though there are a lot of great urban ex opportunities out there just from looking at your pics as well as others.

    #9sophos9November 9, 2010, 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the comments. There was so much cool stuff we saw and had no time to explore – could easily spend another week seeing such great places

#10ger010December 27, 2010, 3:42 pm

Loved your report, been to Beelitz 3 times now but is just
getting better… Thx.

    #11sophos9February 11, 2011, 2:11 pm

    Thanks my friend, its a magical place

#123passaJanuary 29, 2011, 8:29 pm

wow, nice report and excellent moody shots!
Quite a melancholic read, now that it´s closed…

    #13sophos9February 11, 2011, 2:13 pm

    Thanks 3Passa – shame its shutdown, mindless vandalism and abuse however such a great place to explore

#14scoppicsFebruary 16, 2011, 10:11 pm

Great set of shots and commentary. Makes me very sentimental of for old Lady. Beelitz was my first, and there hasn’t been an explore since then to equal her. May she rest in peace, but she will be missed.

    #15sophos9February 16, 2011, 10:14 pm

    Thanks for the comment – its a very special place for sure.

    Grts from the UK

#16MartinFSeptember 23, 2011, 6:10 pm

You queried the wrecked building at Beelitz… it was the women’s santitorium and it was bombed in WW2, hence the fire damage etc. I am not sure if it was the “normal” TB sanitorium or the other one – as I understand it there are two forms of TB, and one usually requires surgery. You’ll see mention of something like lungenkrankenhouse… that one building, the other variant name I can’t recall. Anyhow basically that building is one of the two women’s blocks and it was bombed by our dear old Ar Ay Heff!

We’re off their next month… any tips?

#17RiselotteMarch 4, 2012, 8:35 pm

I loves your entrance about this place! Your photographs are awesome! And I’d like to notify you that I used some of them in my entrance about this place in my blog. Obviously I said That them were made by you. I hope there’s no problem. If there is any, let me know.

#18RiselotteMarch 4, 2012, 8:36 pm

I loved your entrance about this place! Your photographs are awesome! And I’d like to notify you that I used some of them in my entrance about this place in my blog. Obviously I said that them were taken by you. I hope there’s no problem. If there is any, let me know.

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