My Christmas holiday has started. I wanted to go somewhere, but with the pandemic worsening and thus me avoiding all people and travel, I thought I’d just do computer stuff and ride my bike every now and then.
A nice thing about Berlin is that there’s clear city border after which there are just forests and fields. Only interrupted by streets, the Autobahn and dozens, if not hundreds, little villages around it. One of my favourite pastimes is to explore that all by bike.
Parts of the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit were shot in and around Berlin. Turns out that the Methuen Home, the orphanage, is actually Schloß Schulzendorf. And not too far away from my place.
Curious to see what it’s really like, I got on my bike and went there. Urbex time! The manor is in the middle of a tiny village in former East Germany. Bad cobble stone roads, many dilapidated buildings, most of which houses except some small auto repair shops. But then there’s this stately house just in the middle of it. Everything was run down, but the lawn was mown not long ago.
The building being in a bad state I expected the grounds to be fenced off. But you can enter and leave it just like Beth did. Which was an odd sensation, because part of my memory of the fictitious show suddenly appeared real. The feeling was different from seeing a famous landmark for the first time after having it seen in movies, because the house is more like an actor in the sense that it wasn’t portraying itself.
On top of that, the real manor is slightly different from the one in the series. The buildings and the fence from where the boys wave at Beth don’t exist there. Also, in the series, the building was digitally enhanced. They added roof tiles where in reality only a small patch still has them. The tower that looks somewhat out of place, got the same fancy plaster that the rest of the building has.
Otherwise, it felt very familiar. Not just because I knew the shape of the environment, but also because it was like I had memories of the place (fond memories of course, because I made mine while enjoying great entertainment, not having the tough time that Beth had there). Until I looked through the window of the main entrance. There is no way that the Methuen’s Home’s long hallway and the large rooms adjacent to it would fit inside that building!
After the tower, I think the most interesting part of Schloß Schulzendorf is the glass roof extending from the main roof. I was very curious about the room under it, so I looked for open doors. Except for a few rooms not connected to the main building, everything was locked. One of the balcony doors at the back wasn’t fully shut, but there were no stairs going there. If only I could get up there … Then I noticed that the brickwork next to the balcony looked almost like it was designed for teenagers who want to sneak out of the house. So I climbed up to the balcony. I’m not a fearless teenager though. The balustrade is about 3 meters high and everything was moist and slippery, and I was all alone, so this was the scariest (and stupidest) thing I’ve done in a long time. Up on the balcony I discovered that the balcony was indeed slightly ajar!. But it was either locked or so stuck that I couldn’t open it without risking to break anything. At least I got another glance inside!