Narrenturm Vienna

All medicine lovers have to visit the Narrenturm!

If you are interested in pathology, anatomy and diseases, you should visit the Narrenturm. Located in the 9th district, as part of the University Campus, this round building houses anatomical preparations.

Today’s ninth district was used as a location for hospitals founded outside the city walls in mediaeval times. On Währinger Straße a hospital for the poor was built in 1656. In 1754 the rulers decided to build the Imperial and Royal Military National Hospital and the Spanish Hospital on Boltzmanngasse. The Großarmen- und Invalidenhaus, which was converted into the General Hospital of Vienna in 1784, had existed right next door since 1693. 

The Narrenturm

This General Hospital served its medical purpose until 1993. Then, the University of Vienna adapted it to a campus. Much earlier, in 1784, the “k. k. Irrenanstalt zu Wien” (imperial and royal madhouse of Vienna) was opened in the Narrenturm. It is the first institution in Europe exclusively for treating the mentally ill. 

Josef Pasqual Ferro, who had been the public health officer, came up with the idea of collecting specimens. Even though “there was no man who had the knowledge for that.” It took until 1796 for the doctor Johann Peter Frank, director of the General Hospital, to found the museum of Anatomical Pathology. 

Today you can walk through the Narrenturm to learn about all kinds of sicknesses and their effect on our body. There are 19 exhibition rooms on the ground floor, all looking impressive with modern design. Each one offers an insight into the history of disease and pathology. This includes body parts plagued by tumours, the affects of poison on the skin and tissue, the marks of burnings or the story of pandemics. 

Please be aware that this museum isn’t for children and that they ask you to be respectful towards the exhibited body parts. We thank Herrn Winter and the Narrenturm for welcoming us and for sharing so much exciting information. Click here to find more information about this fascinating place. 

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