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Bethanien Berlin

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Photo of the front of Bethanien in Berlin

History of Bethanien

Hidden among the street art, food, noise, charm, bars, grunge, and U1 line, are various surprising gems of Kreuzberg. On the northern tip of SO 36 in Kreuzberg you can find one in particular: Bethanien.

Back in the first half of the 19th century, the northern portion of today's Kreuzberg was only first being settled under the name Luisenstadt. This expansion was necessary due to the growing population, which also meant the Berlin Charité Hospital was becoming too small. Thus a new hospital was announced under Friedrich Wilhelm IV. After some of the most prominent architects of Prussia became involved the Hospital Bethanien opened in 1847 between the a canal and rye fields.

Photo of the first floor inside Bethanien in Kreuzberg Berlin

It would take some time for Bethanien to get to the standards of a 20th century hospital - for example in 1869 900 patients died of gangrene - and most of the nurses in the hospital would be drafted during the Franco-Prussian War and World War I. After repairs from World War II in 1951 were completed, the hospital was reopened, but with the construction of the Berlin Wall and isolation of West Berlin, Bethanien was left in limbo: preservation? deconstruction? new use?

Post World War II

Come 1970 it was unclear what the building should be used for exactly but being that it was in Kreuzberg, use was found.

In 1971 a neighboring building on the Bethanien grounds was occupied by a group associated with the murder of anarchist Georg Rausch and identified as so-called Stadtguerilla. After fighting with Police in December that year, again in 1972, and having a song by the famous Berlin band Ton Steine Scherben dedicated to the occupation, a new method by the state was decided upon: legalize the occupation! Being that the Rauschhaus - as it is known - is still there, this means there has been a legal occupation of Bethanien for more than 50 years!

Photo of the foyer in Bethanien in Kreuzberg Berlin

After an official purchase of the grounds by the state, the house fell under historical protection and bloomed to become a place of culture, art, social initiatives, institutions, even an outdoor theater and restaurant. If you find yourself strolling around Kreuzberg be sure to check out an exhibition at Bethanien. It is free to wander around and check out the art. If the weather is nice check out the open air cinema or grab some food at the restaurant inside called 3 Schwestern.

Interested to check out this on a tour or trip? Contact me here! Just looking for some more tips? Feel free to use the chat function! If I am around I will happily answer, perhaps it may even be worth your time to write a review :)


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