The attractive gardens, red brick buildings from the 1800s and the 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 and even possibly those who’ve had them in the past. In fact, children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The bulk of the specimens presented come from the collection of the founder of modern pathology Rudolf Virchow – who, in true German fashion, once challenged someone to a duel with 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 all gets to be 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.