In plants, algae and cyanobacteria, Photosystem II (PSII) catalyzes the light- driven splitting of water at a protein-bound Mn4CaO5-cluster, the water- oxidizing complex (WOC). In the photosynthetic organisms, the light-driven formation of the WOC from dissolved metal ions is a key process because it is essential in both initial activation and continuous repair of PSII. Structural information is required for understanding of this chaperone-free metal-cluster assembly. For the first time, we obtained a structure of PSII from Thermosynechococcus elongatus without the Mn4CaO5-cluster. Surprisingly, cluster-removal leaves the positions of all coordinating amino acid residues and most nearby water molecules largely unaffected, resulting in a pre- organized ligand shell for kinetically competent and error-free photo-assembly of the Mn4CaO5-cluster. First experiments initiating (i) partial disassembly and (ii) partial re-assembly after complete depletion of the Mn4CaO5-cluster agree with a specific bi-manganese cluster, likely a di-µ-oxo bridged pair of Mn(III) ions, as an assembly intermediate.