Combining history, architecture and nature, the Tree & Time Treetop path Baumkronenpfad Beelitz-Heilstätten is located a short drive from Berlin. This 320-meter-long wood and steel walkway leads through the picturesque grounds and atmospheric ruins of a 19th-century sanatorium, offering a unique perspective on this historic area.
It was in 1898 that the Landesversicherungsanstalt Berlin bought a 140-hectare parcel of woodland near the town of Beelitz, with a lung clinic and sanatorium opening in the spring of 1902. It originally had the capacity for 600 beds but was expanded over the following years to include more than 60 buildings. Adolf Hitler recovered from injuries sustained during World War I here and it was appropriated in 1945 to become the largest Soviet military hospital outside of the Soviet Union.
Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany in 1994, the buildings of the sanatorium were left largely abandoned, luring photographers and urban explorers to experience their mysterious beauty. In 2015, the Baumkronenpfad opened to make the abandoned buildings more accessible to the public, with a treetop walkway and elevated viewing platform that offer expansive vistas.
Visitors can explore the pathway independently or on a guided tour to discover the sanatorium’s fascinating history and the people who sought recovery here. Fine architectural designs and lush natural surrounds were considered an integral element in the sanatorium’s therapies, with long forest walks and fresh air part of the restorative cures.
Around 65 different tree and shrub species are found within the grounds, with the changing of colors particularly impressive during the autumn months. A highlight is the forested roof of the Alpine house where trees have been growing since 1945.