Madmen Tower – Narrenturm

 

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This madmen’s tower had 139 rooms with the average of about 250 jailed people. Inside what people called a „sand goby”, it was dusk, no warming or clean water. Emperor Joseph the 2nd personally chose the floor for each patient. This peculiar, five-story building is located in one of the courtyards of the Old AKH University Camp. The patients, or actually prisoners of the last floor, never left their rooms. The mentally ill people were chained to the walls or the floor on longer or shorter chains, depending on the type of the public threat. Between 1798 and 1843 there were 3582 patients in this tower, including epileptics, melancholics and paranoids.

Although today this description doesn’t sound like taking good care of ill people, we really must mention that a long time ago, an emperor Joseph 2nd’s decision of protecting the mentally ill people was even more controversial. That’s why he order building the madmen’s tower. In 1869, after opening the lunatic asylum, Narreturm was meant to be destroyed, but it still stands there, and since 1971 it holds the Pathological-Anatomical museum. The world’s biggest collection of its type holds over 42.000 exhibits. However, these are mostly human confections, so if you really want to visit this place, you’ll need to have nerves of steel. Narreturm is located in the old AKH 9., Spitalgasse 2. Open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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