The attractive gardens, red brick buildings from the 1800s and river setting of Charite Hospital give the visitor little clue to the horrors inside one of Berlin’s more specialized museums. Prior to my first visit I’d never been a huge fan of visiting the doctor, but the Medical History Museum made me appreciate not having been born in some unenlightened, previous century.
The museum traces medical development over a period of 300 years – but the real draw here is its more famous and rather grisly ‘specimen hall’. I should stress that this is no place for children or even those considering having them at some point. In fact, children under 16 must be accompanied by a guardian.
The bulk of the specimens come from the collection of the founder of modern pathology Rudolf Virchow – who, in true German fashion, apparently once challenged someone to a duel with a sausage. The collection is exquisitely morbid, so don’t go unless you won’t lose your lunch upon viewing an extremely large (60 kilograms) intestine preserved in one massive specimen jar, diseased brains, serenely sleeping, preserved one-eyed babies or other deformities I can’t bring myself to mention here.
The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions, often dealing with forensics. If it’s all too much, check out the lecture hall, bombed towards the end of World War Two but renovated to encompass the ruins, it offers a unique place to reflect in a historical setting. The lecture hall serves as an interesting event space – you can get married here!