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Beelitz Sanatorium: East Germany

East Berlin: Beelitz Sanatorium Vaults

An UrbEx photographers dream.  Literally and figuratively.  Largely abandoned now, Beelitz is another cathedral to UrbEx photography.  Perhaps the comparison should be that Beelitz is to UrbEx shooting as the Vatican is to Catholicism; that The Wall is to Judaism; that Mecca is to Islam.  You get the point.  Completely religion for photographers.

I shot here with the same crew that I shot the Volkerode power plant from my previous post, only later in the afternoon: Jacques Gude, Luis do Santos, Steve Coppenbarger and Alex Freidrichstrasse.

Beelitz, built in 1898, started out its life as a retreat in the countryside for Germans suffering from tuberculosis (TB).  By WWI, it was converted into a military hospital whose records show it to have played host to a young Adolf Hitler who was sent there in 1916 to recover from a military wound before his rise to dictator.  After WWII, the Soviets took control of this facility turning into a military hospital, many remnants of which remain and can be seen if you look closely enough.  Even after German reunification in 1990, the Soviets remained in control of the facility until 1995 after which time they pulled out and left it to the Germans to figure out what to do.  By 2000, the facility was largely shut down, especially certain areas of the grounds and so I had the good fortune to be with some guys who really knew their way around the grounds and to the key structures that make it an UrbEx legend.

I am really at a loss for words about just how immense the place is, not to mention how much shooting can and should be done here.  Complete sensory overload.  5 of us pretty much wandered off in various directions, at various intervals, catching glimpses of one another by chance.  Fortunately these guys knew I would miss so many things and after so many trips to Beelitz themselves, were sure to bring me to the most ‘important’ parts of the structure, from this room, to the famed steps, to the famed rooftop jungle.  I will be posting images from Beelitz for my next 3 posts.

A look at the floor, the walls, and the ceiling tell you all you need to know about what once was, what is, and what is to come of this most beautiful level of decay.  I can’t wait to get back there one day.



5 Responses to “Beelitz Sanatorium: East Germany”

  1. admin says:

    This shot makes me regret the day I ever introduced you to my good friend, Jacques Gudé. I mean that with the most sincere jealousy.

    Seriously, this is great. I’m really thrilled you got the chance to shoot there.

  2. Steve Beal says:

    Fish couldn’t be more perfect. Love everything about this image!

  3. Griffin Robins says:

    nice shot dad

  4. Wow, absolutely amazing.

  5. The fisheye did an especially nice job with the vaulted ceiling.

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