Oh Brandenburg… most people only think of Berlin when thinking about you. Pity, because they’re missing out on some pretty cool places in the surrounding area. Beelitz, all ten hamlets of her, being one of them. The place used to be really popular back a few centuries ago when the town was a place of pious pilgrimage.
If you’ve ever seen the movie the Oscar winning movie the Pianist (with actor Adrian Brody) then you’ve seen Beelitz without ever knowing it, since part of the movie was shot here at the Beelitz-Heilstätten. It’s an old sanitorium with some sixty-odd abandoned buildings.
This 20th century tourist attraction gives off the aura of an old ghost town, but there’s something ruggedly beautiful about the place.
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It’s not all old houses or desolate (oh, maybe haunted?) buildings that brings people to Beelitz. There is more, really. For some, many come to see where their family once lived. The town had a large Jewish population and the old cemetery has graves dating back to the 1750’s (the last one dates to 1925).
Many of us remember a divided Germany and the area was once part of the Eastern Bloc, so it’s only fitting that you’d find a Soviet Honor Cemetery where almost 900 soldiers are buried.
Though if you’re going to visit churches while visiting the town’s hamlets make it the Sts. Marien & Nikolai (this was THE place of pilgrimage) and the town church in the village of Schlunkendorf (it just has a certain je ne sais quoi).
When you’re scouting out all of the town’s little architectural gems, ain’t no place better to sit and relax than over Riebener See; where you can swim, fish, or just chill out waterside.
It might be too cold to do that if you’re here in October, but with the couple of harvest celebrations going on you might not even notice. On the 1st and 2nd weekends in Advent (think 3 or 4 weeks before Christmas) Beelitz’s villages are abuzz with their Christmas Markets.
If the cooler weather isn’t for you, then come in the Spring (preferably the 1st weekend in May) for a weekend long Music Celebration.
Ahhhhhh, who needs Berlin when you got Beelitz.