Beelitz-Heilstätten report 1 - the Badehaus... Image intensive!!!

Help Support Derelict Places:

TeeJF

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
2,725
Reaction score
2,963
Location
Lancashire - not far from Preston.
Well we finally made it over to Berlin to explore Beelitz-Heilstätten! We had read so much about the site, even bought a photo book, and we couldn't wait, but we were seriously hoping it wasn't all hype. We needn't have worried though, this place is simply AWESOME and it is huge!

There are at least 15 major buildings on the site, many of which have three floors, and several small buildings besides. To give you some idea of scale it is almost a mile as the crow flys from "Chirurgie" (the surgery building) in the north west corner of the site to the Badehaus (the treatment baths) in the south east. The entire site was built in the late 1800s and the early part of the 1900s as a tuberculosis sanitorium for the ordinary people of Berlin. TB usually ravishes the lungs but it can also take seat in other areas of the body too. At the time of the building of this and so many other sanatoriums throughout the world there was not much in the way of effective treatment beyond copious amounts of fresh air, sometimes to the point of sleeping outdoors, and when all else failed, extensive surgery to remove the diseased organs. I think it is fair to say that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries before the advemnt of anti-biotics, TB was a plague to rival perhaps the Black Death of the Middle Ages.

No expense was spared at Beelitz and as a result of the quality of workmanship the buildings are still in very good condition in the main, despite the massive neglect of the Soviet occupying forces after WW2, and the subsequent attentions of the vandalistic elements of society after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the departure of the Russians in the nineties.

The architecture is aesthetically pleasing and with the landscaped airing courts and walkways set out between the various buildings the site must have originally looked quite stunning. That said it is in a heavily wooded area and so I suspect the mosquito problem in high summer must be quite appalling! I am told to that woods today are home to a particularly nasty species of tick that carries a form of encephalitus so appropriate precautions against these nasty wickies should be taken.

Despite very heavy boarding up of doors and windows to prevent access we still managed to enter and explore FIVE of the main buildings on the site and we fully intend to go back as soon as possible to explore at least FOUR more which also appear to be easily accesible. It is a little dissapointing to find every route in bloced off, especially as relatively recently there was nothing to bar entry at all, with doors open almost everywhere. It is sad too to report that we could not find the operating theatre light array in Chirurgie, the stem which attached it to the electricity rail on the operating theatre roof is all that remains now. This too is a recent example of vandalism as it would appear to have still been there as late as the beginning of this year.

THREE buildings on the site have been renovated as museums though there was not a soul to be seen at any of them to ask about entry to view!

This then is our first report from our trip last week and it covers ONLY the Badehaus building. Watch this space for reports on the other four we have explored so far.

REPORT 1 - Badehaus...

The Badehaus (central bath house complex) is located at the south eastern end of the Beelitz-Heilstätten site in the Männer-sanatorium sector, adjacent to the Male Pavilion, and directly opposite the Pulmonary Medicine building. The complex houses several bathing areas on the ground floor including an enormous domed cathedral-like extension containing nothing but a tiny plunge pool set right in the middle of the floor!

The first floor appears to be predominantly treatment rooms, apart from the end of the east wing where there is a huge exercise hall - Saal V. The high arched ceiling here is supported by immense wooden beams, each one decorated with an identical carved Gothic dragon. The room has a tremendously open, airy feeling, due in no small measure to the numerous stained glass feature windows. The view across the lawns towards the adjacent buildings is superb.

It is normal almost everywhere throughout Beelitz-Heilstätten to find aesthetically pleasing architecture rather than buildings with any tendency towards stark functionality, as perhaps might be expected given the original purpose of the site; indeed we saw only one exception, the bombed out Women's Pavilion in the Frauern Lungenheil-stätten sector. The beautifully ornate Badehaus is built predominantly with glazed red engineering bricks, similar to the famous Accrington brick so beloved of the British building industry, but the red brick walls are broken up by regular sections built with cream and fawn glazed clinker bricks. Some parts of the building, especially the chimney stacks, are further decorated with geometric patterns created with black and white glazed bricks. This clever use of colour, and the use of inset ornamental timbers, makes the Badehaus an extremely attractive and colourful building. Very little of the architecture is square or "blocky" unless curves and enhancements have been deliberately created to contrast planned angularity.

Romanesque design features abound, a prime example being the huge dome crowning a large circular hall housing the plunge pool. There are numerous marble columns with tasteful ornate capitals, supporting the roofs over spacious corridors, and the highly decorated feature staircases are built on a grand scale - big, open and sweeping. Sheet copper cladding on the numerous roof vents etc. sets off the cream and terracotta feel with a pleasant copper oxide verdigris.

Construction on the Badehaus began during Beelitz's initial building phase between 1898 and 1902, and it is still the largest medicinal baths complex anywhere in Germany. Following the annexation of the east of Germany by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II a singular lack of routine maintenance by the incumbents, and at times outright neglect, has resulted in massive water damage to the interior of this building - yet despite this fact it is fair to say that the Badehaus is still one of the best preserved buildings at Beelitz-Heilstätten.

We walked right the way round the building looking for a means of access but it seemed that every window and door at ground floor, or cellar level, was boarded up securely - what a shock after seeing photographs on numerous sites where everything had once been open, not least the main entrance doors! We got excited when we found a strange, square, tiled structure at the front of the building, looking for all the world like a well. There appeared to be a tunnel at the bottom which ran off most invitingly towards the Badehaus wall, but the shaft was much too deep to climb down without a ladder or a rope. Eventually we found a way in (details of which I cannot disclose due to forum rules) but suffice it to say that after a few short minutes wandering around the cellars we were standing inside the huge domed plunge pool room.

Like the Technik (power house) complex slightly to the north, there was strong evidence to suggest that the Badehaus is currently undergoing either restoration or at the very least remedial work to prevent further deterioration - we found a concrete mixer on the ground floor and in many places there were piles of rubbish and rotten plaster swept up ready for removal. We also saw a lot of plastic sheeting spread across the interior walls, presumably to contain asbestos, which unfortunately is very common at Beelitz. Despite the obvious potential for disturbance by workmen the building was empty upon arrival, but we still stayed clear of the windows throughout the explore unless we were taking point of view photographs. We wandered around without interference right up until we reached the cellars again at the end of the explore, when suddenly we heard voices. Two German speaking men appeared in the cellar courtyard and stood chatting literally a couple of feet away from us on the other side of a wall. Had they stuck their heads through the huge open window only 3 feet to our side then we would have been spotted and I wonder who would have got the biggest shock then because they clearly had no idea they were not alone!!! We came to the conclusion that they were probably just explorers too, but having said that it's never worth the risk of discovery when urb-exing just in case, so we froze on the spot and waited until they had passed on, then crept back to our entry point and made our way back outside once again. A short while later we were wandering through the cellars of the Male Pavilion when they appeared again, this time in a boiler room a few yards further down the basement corridor along which we were wandering whilst looking for a way up into the building proper. So we gave up at this end of the site and headed up to the north west instead - but more of that on another report!

The photos...

Here is a selection of the photos we took but there are also some interactive panoramas you can pan and tilt to your heart's content dotted throughout the "normal" pix.
For the keen photographers amongst you I apologise for their relatively poor quaility but they were created with a £2.49 iPhone app!

We hope you enjoy them...



The front of the Badehaus building as you approach from the railway station to the north...

001.jpg




The statue of a Soviet soldier stands guard even though his real life compadres are long gone...

002.jpg




A delightfully tarnished copper clad tower crowns the middle of the bath house...

003.jpg




The only way is up! :p

005.jpg




The plunge pool is built into the floor of a dome roofed, circular extension on the south side of the building...

009.jpg




Even the roof of the plunge pool room is tiled, as is almost every wall within the Badehaus...

012.jpg




The attention to detail in these buildings is absolute with loads of stained glass everywhere...

010.jpg




Although the plunge pool is a little grubby it appears to be in really good condition despite not being used for years...

013.jpg




Leaving the plunge pool hall we enter the entrance hall of the building with it's sweeping staircase and tiled floors...

016.jpg




THE FIRST OF OUR INTERACTIVE PANORAMAS is of the entrance hall and staircase. CLICK THE IMAGE TO VIEW...

Pano_01.jpg



The sheer scale of the entrance lobby, seen here through a glazed partition window, gives some idea of the grandeur of the architecture at Beelitz...

018.jpg




Attention to detail and finish - the tiled borders in the entrance hall of the Badehaus...

019.jpg




The natural light within the building is superb wherever there is no shuttering over the windows...

015.jpg




Not everywhere within the building is in good condition, water ingress has left this corridor a wee bit flaky!

025.jpg




A different kind of treatment clearly involving bathing and showering...

029.jpg




The vibrant colours of decay...

032.jpg




...and of peeling paint!

033.jpg




Evidence of the recently departed Russians who used Beelitz as a vast military hospital...

035.jpg




Stair porno Pt. 1... :)

036.jpg




At the east end of the first floor transverse corridor a small, glazed door with the legend "Saal V" (Room 5) gives little idea of what lies beyond...

038.jpg




Saal V is a vast exercise hall with massive roof beams and huge windows...

044.jpg




The ends of each roof truss are carved into Gothic dragons...

041.jpg




Looking out from Saal V towards the Male Pavilion, in which a certain Adolph Hitler was treated when he was shot in the leg on the Somme in 1916.
Beelitz was pressed into service as a military hospital for the first time in WW1...


048.jpg




I call this picture "Contemplation"! These huge mirrors at one end of Saal V are actually film props made with heat shrink mirrored plastic sheet fixed over a light baton frame...

042.jpg




THE SECOND OF OUR INTERACTIVE PANORAMAS is a view of Saal V in it's entirety. CLICK THE IMAGE TO VIEW...

Pano_02.jpg



Stair porn Pt. 2! This staircase leads up to the second floor...

050.jpg




A place to sit and further contemplate decay...

053.jpg




The plunge pool seen through a circular window high up on the north wall...

056.jpg




Unfortunately we do not own a camera with a suitably wide angle lense so this was the best I could do to capture how magnificent this room reallly is...

057.jpg




The camera always exhibits this wierd misting fault in a cold room.
Paradoxically the effect captured how the room may have looked when it was being used for it's intended purpose all those years ago!...


058.jpg




Doesn't that staircase look inviting! Sadly the roof felt a little bit "soft" when we finally found a way up! :mad:

060.jpg




THE THIRD OF OUR INTERACTIVE PANORAMAS... CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO SEE WHAT I WAS LOOKING AT! :) ...

062.jpg



Stair porn Pt. 3 :lol:

065.jpg




This last staircase descends all the way from the roof to the cellars via each of the floors in between.
Within the cellars there are two internal courtyards which are open to the sky three stories above.
We found our way out to wander the courtyards via the windows of this room...


069.jpg




No urban explore is complete without the obligatory abandoned shoe photograph.
At Beelitz the shoes are of an infinitely superior quaility and come in pairs, in this case rather attractive and still very serviceable jack boots!!!


072.jpg




We crouched own behind these windows holding our breath as two German speaking men had a conversation only inches away!
I wonder who would have got the biggest shock had they looked in through the gaping window frame a few feet to our left! :lol:


079.jpg




And finally, this is the view of the back of the Badehaus from the overgrown woods which surround many of the buildings at Beelitz...

080.jpg


Hope you liked the piccies! If you want to see some more then the full set is on our website, linked below. :)

Report 2, "The Bombed Women's Pavilion" will follow soon.

Thanks for looking... :) :) :)
 

Pincheck

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
1,072
Reaction score
998
Location
scotland
Was supposed to be here in august till my accident got in the way still time. Very nice mate its a superb site to see :)
 

TeeJF

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
2,725
Reaction score
2,963
Location
Lancashire - not far from Preston.
Thanks so much for your kind comments guys. yes it is a totally amazing site. I had an interesting convo with someone long before we went and the way he said it, I got the impression it was that everybody goes there and it's probably nothing special. Now I totally respect his judgement so we were very wary incase it turned out to be a total lemon... it didn't and we were absolutely blown away!

Pincheck... how long before you are back ready to rock 'n roll then?

If anyone wants the low down on accom, flights, getting out to the site from Berlin, and the usual forbidden on an open page type stuff, then PM us, we're happy to share what we know.
 

Lolpeacock

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
56
Reaction score
17
Location
Nottingham
Groovy architecture. What a waste of a great building. Brilliant pics as usual. Ta for putting in the effort.
 

Em_Ux

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2010
Messages
703
Reaction score
354
Location
Cambridge
Stunning....just stunning!

The interactive photos are fantastic too.

Well done to you both :)
 

nelly

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2010
Messages
1,417
Reaction score
2,110
Location
Harlow
Very nice!!! Love those interactive pano pics, really gives you a proper sense of the rooms :)
 

Pincheck

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
1,072
Reaction score
998
Location
scotland
Thanks so much for your kind comments guys. yes it is a totally amazing site. I had an interesting convo with someone long before we went and the way he said it, I got the impression it was that everybody goes there and it's probably nothing special. Now I totally respect his judgement so we were very wary incase it turned out to be a total lemon... it didn't and we were absolutely blown away!

Pincheck... how long before you are back ready to rock 'n roll then?

If anyone wants the low down on accom, flights, getting out to the site from Berlin, and the usual forbidden on an open page type stuff, then PM us, we're happy to share what we know.


oh god i am already back and doing silly stuff spent a lot of the last 2 weekends out and about :lol::lol:

 

TeeJF

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
2,725
Reaction score
2,963
Location
Lancashire - not far from Preston.
Glad you're back in the swing again Pincheck, must have been awful for you. Thnaks again for the lovely comments guys. The panoramas came out OK considering they were only done with a cheapo app for my iPhone. Best 2 and a half quid I've spent in a long time!
 

TeeJF

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
2,725
Reaction score
2,963
Location
Lancashire - not far from Preston.
Forgot to say, we are looking to go back out again as soon as poss as we've really only sctached the surface. I'll be doing the next building report from the site somke time next week.
 

TeeJF

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
2,725
Reaction score
2,963
Location
Lancashire - not far from Preston.
Cheers guys, it's great sharing a place like Beelitz or Chateau Miranda. We've just booked to go back again in a couple of weeks. I can't believe how cheap the flights and hotel are!!!

Best of all we get to see BlueMan Group AGAIN when we go... can't have much more fun than a day exploring topped off with BMG by night!

Anyone wants to go at the mo then it's just cost us £90 return for flights for BOTH of us, that's not each, that's BOTH. And the hotel (the uber posh 4 star Hotel Berlin) is E 230 room rate for 4 nights.
 

Latest posts

Top