Berlin Monument Authority  

 

Archeological Monuments

Heiliggeist-Hospital


Heiliggeist-Hospital

Heiliggeist-Hospital, Spandauer Straße 1-3, Mitte;
foundations of the southern enclosing wall of the "Hostel to the Holy Ghost", presumably sixteenth century


The red brick structure of the Heiliggeist-Kapelle (Holy Ghost Chapel) on Spandauer Strasse originated at the end of the thirteenth century. It is the only part of the Sehenhof (Siechenhof, "Invalid Court") or Armenhof zum heiligen Geiste ("Poorhouse of the Holy Ghost") still preserved and first mentioned in the year 1272. This hospital at the Spandau Gate originated after the mid-thirteenth century along with the Berliner Neustadt (New City) around the Marienkirche and existed until 1886. Even in the Middle Ages the Council of the City was responsible for its maintenance, and the nurses were the sisters of the Beguine order, sworn to an oath of poverty. The hospital had its own cemetery; according to the city maps of the seventeenth century, it extended westward toward the river Spree. Intentions to construct new buildings on the site led to an archeological investigation running to the south and west of the adjacent college all the way to Burgstrasse covering an area of over 2500 square meters. The remains of skeletons of 300 individuals were documented, among them more than 100 from undisturbed graves. The skeletons, oriented from west to east as was customary in the Christian era, were found up to three meters below today's surface, some of them in up to five horizontal layers. The bodies were adults, children, infants and newborns, buried in winding sheets and wooden coffins. Under the Heiliggeist-Gasse ("Holy Ghost Lane"), which used to run along the south of the college, the granite foundations and portal of the baroque cemetery wall were excavated, documented and restored, along with the foundations of the front garden wall of the expansion building of the hospital from the mid-nineteenth century. They are integrated into the park as visible archeological monuments. Since the Heiliggeist Hospital was chiefly devoted to the urban care of needy citizens like orphans, people living alone, the elderly, the infirm and the ill, the graves made comprehensible a specific sector of the population from which special kinds of illnesses and deficiencies can be investigated.