Soak up some stunning bath-time relics

The stunning exhibits at Berlin's museum of 'Sanitary Archeology' provide a gorgeous insight into the development of the bathroom

It's easy to forget that bathrooms are a relatively recent addition to the home, but trawl back through history and you'll quickly reach eras of portable hip baths, chamber pots and jugs of hot water.

What these early facilities lacked in convenience, however, they certainly made up for in style.

Stunning antique bathroom fittings at Berlin's Galerie für sanitäre Archäologie
A beguiling glimpse into the development of the modern bathroom - Galerie für sanitäre Archäologie, Berlin

Berlin's bijou but beguiling Galerie für sanitäre Archäologie (Gallery of Sanitary Archeology) traces the development of the bathroom as we know it, from exquisite urns complete with tiny taps (no plumbing involved - they had to be filled by hand) to Art Deco bathroom suites.

Antique bathroom fitttings in Berlin's beautiful bathroom museum
Bathrooms as they used to be - Galerie für sanitäre Archäologie, Berlin

We'll readily admit that a museum of sanitary-ware may not sound like the most appealing of Berlin's attractions, but this isn't just an exhibit for avid social historians.

On the one hand a reminder of the - erm - conveniences we take for granted, it's also a lavish visual feast that's guaranteed to delight lovers of retro décor and antique curiosities.

The downside? The Galerie für sanitäre Archäologie doesn't keep conventional opening hours, and you'll need to contact the owner, Peter Schwarzwälder, to book a place on one of the intermittent tours.

Although these are conducted exclusively in German, the charming Herr Schwarzwälder speaks excellent English, and might be persuaded to accommodate a group for an English language visit. You'll find the contact details below.

Failing that, it's worth taking a peek in the museum's window, where many of the most beautiful items are displayed. Even if you can't get to see the entire collection, you'll get a good glimpse of this treasure trove of bath-time curiosities.

See also:
Time travel in a 19th century Berlin apartment
Berlin's anti-war museum


Further facts

You'll find another, smaller display of antique bathroom fittings in the windows of the Schwarzwälder company's headquarters in Mierendorffstraße 25, 10589 Berlin.

Galerie für sanitäre Archäologie: Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße 35, 10627 Berlin. Tours by arrangement, entrance fee applicable. 

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