Cemetery Cafés Gain Popularity in Berlin

An interesting concept, to be sure…

View of cemetery from Friedhofscafé

View of cemetery from Friedhofscafé

Graveyards may not seem the ideal location for afternoon tea, but there is a trend towards opening cafes inside cemetery walls in Berlin and other cities. They offer comfort not just for the bereaved but for local people and tourists who seek tranquility.

“But no dead people were laid out here, right?” The two elderly ladies standing at the cake counter wanted to know exactly what happened here. “Oh yes, corpses were laid out right here,” replied the waitress, Johanna Helmberger, suppressing a smile.

Many visitors to Café Strauss in the the Kreuzberg district of Berlin ask her that. It doesn’t lessen the ladies’ enthusiasm. “It’s great! We’ll come again,” said one while paying.

Helmberger, 29, has a full house. Groups of pensioners, a middle-aged couple, two women with babies and a young man with a laptop. It’s a cold, rainy November day and the café, located inside the walls of a cemetery in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, offers a view of wet headstones and family tombs. It doesn’t sound cheerful. But the guests are chatting away contentedly.

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Ghost Towns: Beelitz-Helstatten Sanitorium


Walking through the winding structures and empty streets of the Beelitz-Helstatten Sanitorium within the Potsdam-Mittelmark district of Brandenburg Germany, one can barely imagine  life existing at all here.  With the exception of a neurological centre and as well as a section devoted to research and care of patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, a majority of the 60 building complex has been abandoned completely since 2000.  Construction of the building began in 1898, and at one time its halls and rooms were filled with patients, doctors, nurses, orderlies, as well as a host of other professions designed to treat and cure consumptive illnesses, particularly tuberculosis.  It did not remain exclusive to this type of treatment for long.
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