Not for the faint-hearted

Collection of Anatomical Pathology in the Madhouse Tower – NHM

If the walls of the Madhouse Tower could talk, they would have so much to tell. Mind you, most of the stories would not be suitable for anyone of a nervous disposition. It was opened in 1784, and was where mental patients were once accommodated; people who were regarded as needing to be shut away from the rest of the population. Here in this imposing round building, hidden away behind the old Vienna General Hospital (today a university campus), up until 1869, the inmates led a miserable existence. They were locked in cells, sometimes even chained to their beds and strapped into straitjackets. Walking along the corridors of the Madhouse Tower today, passing the heavy cell doors, you can imagine you are hearing their distant wailing. Even if it is usually just the wind whistling through the old stonework ...

Even though there are no mental patients living here any more to bang and crash out from the confinement of the cells, the Fools’ Tower is not quite a walk in the park. Since 1971 it has housed the world’s largest public collection of anatomical pathology exhibits, with around 50,000 items, open to all visitors. The best way to see it is as part of a fascinating tour by guide Eduard Winter. The corridors and cells contain specimens showing all kinds of malformations and diseases, which were used by students and doctors, as today, to study human diseases and make advances in medicine. These days some people even contact the curators directly to offer parts of their body for inclusion in the collection after their death. Maybe that’s a particularly Viennese way of being remembered for ever ...

Guided tours

The Madhouse Tower is particularly fascinating if you join one of the guided tours.

Insider tip: ask for a special tour with Eduard Winter! As head of the collection at the Madhouse Tower, his knowledge is deeply impressive, and he also has a repertoire of extraordinary stories and anecdotes that make a visit to the Madhouse Tower something really out of the ordinary.


We 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00
Th 11:00
Sa 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00

Collection of Anatomical Pathology in the Madhouse Tower – NHM

Spitalgasse 2 (behind the university campus)

1090 Vienna


+43 1 521 77 606

We 10:00-18:00, Th & Sa 10:00-13:00

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