I’m confident this installment will be a nice mix of my “Weekends away” series and my regular theme of slightly unusual trips. A while a go I stumbled upon a blog post talking about a set of abandoned hospital buildings south of Berlin in a town called Beelitz Heilstätten. They were originally a set of TB hospitals which were then converted into military hospitals during the first world war (Hitler received treatment in one of them) and then Sanatoriums after the war. Eventually they were re-purposed again by the Russians when they occupied East Germany after the second world war.
Three of these buildings are actually open to the public through tour operator Go2Know for 40EUR for 5 hours free roam of the buildings. Their website is in German but Google translate does a pretty good job of translating it (or just email them at email@example.com). These buildings have been used as backdrops in various films (The Pianist, Valkyrie …) and music videos (Rammstein – Mein Herz brennt). There is also a bombed out old Sanatorium nearby that we had a look around at night, unfortunately we couldn’t get any decent photos but you can just about make out the place on Google Maps as the roof has a lot of foliage growing on it. It was a bit like a textbook horror film though, long dark corridors with a faint window at the end, I was fully expecting a silhouette to shoot past at some point!
The next we went down to Krampnitz military complex North West of Potsdam, a site created by the Nazi’s during the rearmament of Germany and then one day after being abandoned by them it was taken over by the advancing Russian forces who used it until it was abandoned in 1992. Very little German imagery remains as the Russians stripped it out but we’d heard rumors that a large Eagle mosaic still existed somewhere in one of the buildings and we were determined to find it. Whilst a lot of the buildings are almsot identical a few of them contain some more interesting sites that can be seen in the pictures below and detailed on this Google Map.
Combining these sights with some well timed easyJet flights from Gatwick (7:45pm Friday out, 9pm Sunday return, £80) and two fantastic nights in a East German themed hotel (Ostel Hotel) you’ve got yourself a great weekend away from London on a budget.
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