In the early fall of 1825, Beethoven decided to move into a flat near the apartment of his friends (Stephan von Breuning and his family). The place he selected - called the Schwarzspanierhaus ("House of the Black-Robed Spaniards") - had once been a monastery.
Gerhard von Breuning, who was twelve when the family's friend also became their neighbor, describes Beethoven's last residence:
The house and the adjoining church had been built by Benedictine monks from Spain, and their requirements had dictated the somewhat unusual arrangement of the windows. When Beethoven moved in the adjacent church was being used as a warehouse for military beds.
To keep the prelate's apartment higher, the middle portion of the house has only two stories, with nine windows in a row, whereas on each of the side wings there are three stories, each with four front windows. The arrangement of the windows is such that the top row forms an unbroken line. Counting from the church, Beethoven's third-floor apartment starts with the fifth in this upper row of windows and ends with the ninth (the one just past the main entry door).
One reached the apartment by means of a beautiful main staircase. . . Light, warmth, spaciousness, having my father as a neighbor - all these and more combined to make this apartment a very comfortable one for Beethoven - just the home he had been longing for.
How did the apartment look, after Beethoven moved in? Gerhard tells us more:
All over the floor lay stacks of music, printed and hand-written, in total disarray: his own compositions as well as those of others. This room was seldom entered by anyone, and when I went in from time to time, out of curiosity or boredom or because Beethoven had sent me in for something, I would wander among the apparently old, certainly casually thrown together rubbish.
At my young age, I had no appreciation of those treasures, which would be sold by the bundle six months after Beethoven's death - all those manuscripts, some of them of unedited works, that would be scattered all over the world for a few gulden! (Gerhard von Breuning, Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards, pages 60-63. English translation - Maynard Solomon [Editor, Translator].)
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Image online, courtesy "Mad About Beethoven."
Quoted passage from Gerhard von Breuning, Memories of Beethoven: From the House of the Black-Robed Spaniards, pages 60-63 - English translation, Maynard Solomon (Editor, Translator). Online, courtesy Google Books.