Heilstätte Grabowsee


The Heilstätte Grabowsee is a fascinating historical site located in the Oberhavel district of Brandenburg, Germany. Originally established as a lung sanatorium in 1896 by the German Red Cross, it later served as a military hospital and even became a popular movie set. In this article, I’ll take you on a virtual journey through this abandoned complex, sharing its history, architecture, and the eerie beauty that still lingers within its decaying walls.

Grabowsee was the first sanatorium for pulmonary tuberculosis in northern Germany. The sprawling complex covers approximately 32 hectares and lies about 30 km north of Berlin, within the city limits of Oranienburg.

Sanatorium for the Working Class

Initially, the ‘Heilstätte Grabowsee’ was established as an experiment to determine if lung patients could be treated in the lowlands of Germany. At that time, it was commonly believed that only mountain air had therapeutic effects on patient recovery. By 1900, the facility had expanded to 200 beds for men with varying degrees of illness. Subsequently, ‘Heilstätte Grabowsee’ evolved into the Red Cross Sanatorium for the Working Class.

During the First World War, Grabowsee served as a hospital for treating soldiers with lung diseases. Until 1918, it also accommodated prisoners of war. In 1920, the Brandenburg Insurance Company assumed ownership of the property.

Starting in 1926, construction of new buildings led to a doubling of capacity, reaching approximately 420 beds by the early 1930s. Architect Arnold Beschoren oversaw the extensive expansion and renovation. The advent of antibiotics revolutionized tuberculosis treatment, significantly reducing the need for prolonged hospitalization.

Film Sets

After the Second World War, it was used from 1945 to 1995 as a Soviet military hospital. The site is now a popular backdrop for movies and photographs. Filmmakers appreciate its unique blend of history and decay. In 2013 the movie ‘Monuments Men’ was filmed here. Also, the film ‘Heilstätten’ was filmed inside several buildings of the complex.

I visited the site in 2019. The combination of architectural decay, overgrown vegetation, and remnants of medical equipment creates a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere. Sunlight filters through broken windows, illuminating the past. Today the old sanatorium is private property and is fenced off with a guard on duty.

Built 1896
Abandoned 1995