Photo © Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Located in Neuruppin, Brandenburg Germany
In 1840, a clothier named Johann Christian Gentz purchased a tract of land on Kahlen Berge (Bald Mountain), north of the city of Neuruppin for farming. A large ornate granary, designed by Carl von Diebitch, was constructed in 1861. After the family moved to the estate, Johann's son Ludwig envisioned a grand castle-like mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens, as well as a family mausoleum. The Moorish-style mansion, designed by Martin Gropius and Heino Schmieden, was built in 1876-1877, while the grounds were planned by Gustav Meyer. Unfortunately, the cost of the construction exceeded far beyond the estimates, which eventually led to the ruin of Johann Gentz; the family went bankrupt in 1880.
Gentrode was then passed onto many owners; in 1881 it was sold at about one-fifth of the construction costs, and the subsequent owner sold off the inventory and eventually the entire estate in only ten months. The next owner, A. Wernicke, was a machine manufacturer specializing in sugar production. His plans to grow sugar beets were quickly shot down due to the poor soil quality in the area. After five years the estate was sold again to Paul Hoepffner, who only owned it for a year.
In 1934, the area was possessed by the Nazi Wehrmacht and used as a firing range and ammunition dump. In 1945, the Soviet army took control, and was home to the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany tank division. The Soviets added a few buildings, including a cinema, two barracks, a boiler house, sauna, and grocery store that supported the 5,000 people living at the site. After the dispersal of the Russian army, the buildings on the 500 acre estate fell into ruin.
In 2010, the Bilgiç Başeğmez Volkan Ertürk and Turkish investors purchased Gentzrode in hopes to transform the site into a resort. Restoration work is slated in 2011, after proper inspections for any remaining live ammunition that might still be located on-site.