Going to the hospital in this German town is a pleasant event. Enter this historic building to learn about its charitable era.
The Hospital of the Holy Spirit (Heiligen-Geist-Hospital) in Lübeck, Germany, certainly doesn’t look like one of today’s hospitals, but it has provided centuries of care to the sick and elderly. In fact, since the Middle Ages the hospital’s altruistic principles have been steadfast until the last century. Visit one of Europe’s oldest hospitals throughout the year and particularly during the Christmas period when it becomes the venue for a lavish arts and crafts fair.
Although the Hospital of the Holy Spirit admitted its last resident over 50 years ago, its appearance has changed very little over time. It is one of the best-preserved medieval hospitals in the country and its old-fashioned character remains evident. Lübeck merchants founded the hospital for the poor, sick and orphans in the 13th century. Notice the Gothic frescoes adorning the porch area as you enter as well as the small, roofless wooden cabins inside.
Look into these tiny structures, or kabäuschen, that were constructed in the early 1900s for the homeless to use as lodgings. Nearly 130 existed throughout the building’s great hall. In return for living in the hospital’s confines and being provided with food and a warm bath eight times a year, residents were expected to live a quiet, almost monastic existence. The hospital has certain church features, such as an altar dating from the 16th century when the hospital became secularized during the Reformation.
The old town of Lübeck is known for its well-preserved historic buildings, which contributed to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Look up at the rooftops in this area to see why the city has the nickname “city of the seven spires.” The hospital’s belfry and four metal-clad spires dramatically contribute to the scene.
Find the Hospital of the Holy Spirit along the Old Town’s Koberg Square. Admittance is free but the site is closed on Mondays. Learn about Lübeck’s early concern for personal wellbeing for the underprivileged by visiting one of Europe’s oldest social institutions.