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Berlin - Around Town : Potsdam & Sanssouci (part 1)

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Potsdam is an important part of European cultural history – a splendid centre of European Enlightenment, which reached its climax in the 18th century in the architectural and artistic design of Frederick the Great’s palace. The palace complex of Sanssouci, with its beautiful, extensive park, is both magnificent and playful and has been designated a World Heritage Centre of Culture by UNESCO. Every year, it enchants millions of visitors from around the world. The town of Potsdam, numbering some 300,000 inhabitants, is the capital of the federal province of Brandenburg. This former garrison town has much to delight its vvisitors, including small palaces and old churches, idyllic parks and historic immigrant settlements.

The Potsdam Conference

In July and August 1945, the heads of government of the United States (Harry Truman), the USSR (Joseph Stalin) and Great Britain (Winston Churchill) met in Schloss Cecilienhof, in order to seal the future of Germany in a treaty. Vitally important points such as the demilitarization of Germany, the level of reparations to be paid, the punishment of war criminals, the resettlement of Germans from Poland and the new borders of Germany were decided here.


S-Bahn S7 goes to Potsdam from Berlin. The journey takes about 45 minutes from S station Friedrichstr.


Palaces in Potsdam www.spsg.de


Filmpark Babelsberg: www.filmpark.de


NOTE

Top 10 Sights
  1. Schloss Sanssouci

    The Prussian King Frederick the Great wished to live “sanssouci”, in a palace outside the boundaries of the hated city – the French phrase means “without worries”. In 1745, Frederick commissioned his favourite architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff to plan and construct this magnificent Rococo palace according to his own designs.

    The main building with its yellow façade rises proudly above the former terraced vineyards, leading up to the domed building and its elegant marble hall at the centre of the palace complex. In both its design and shape, the marble hall pays homage to the Pantheon in Rome. To its left and right are some very attractive rooms designed by von Knobelsdorff and Johann August Nahl; these include the famous concert room, adorned with paintings by Antoine Pesne, and Frederick’s library. In this wing, the monarch liked to play the flute or to philosophize with Voltaire. Valuable paintings by Frederick the Great’s favourite painter, the French artist Antoine Watteau, adorn the palace walls.

    • Maulbeerallee

    • Apr–Oct: 10am–6pm Tue–Sun; Nov–Mar: 10am–5pm Tue–Sun

    • guided tour obligatory

    • 0331 969 41 90

    • Admission charge

  2. Neues Palais

    To the north of Sanssouci palace park rises the Baroque Neues Palais. One of Germany’s most beautiful palaces, it was built in 1763–9 for Frederick the Great according to designs by Johann Gottfried Büring, Jean Laurent Le Geay and Carl von Gontard. The vast two-storey structure comprises 200 rooms, including the Marmorsaal (marble hall), a lavishly furnished ballroom, and the Schlosstheater, where plays are once more performed today. Frederick’s private chambers are equally splendid, especially his study furnished in Rococo style, the upper gallery with valuable parquet flooring and the Oberes Vestibül, a room clad entirely in marble.

    • Am Neuen Palais

    • Apr–Oct: 10am–6pm Wed–Mon

    • audio guide available

    • guided tour obligatory

    • 0331 969 42 02

    • Admission charge

    Neues Palais
  3. Schlosspark Sanssouci

    It is easy to while away an entire day in the extensive palace park, which covers 287 hectares (709 acres) of land. Of the many charming buildings hidden in the lavishly designed landscape garden, the Rococo-style Chinesische Haus, built in 1754–6 by Johann Gottfried Büring, is especially worth seeking out.

    Originally it served as a tea-house and dining room, and it now houses an exhibition of porcelain pieces from East Asia.

    The Römische Bäder (Roman Baths), a group of pavilions next to the lake, are also inspired by historic models. Modelled on an Italian Renaissance villa, they were built between 1829 and 1840 by Friedrich Karl Schinkel as guest and bathing houses.

    The Orangerie, constructed in 1851–60 by Friedrich August Stüler, was also originally intended to accommodate the king’s guests. Today it houses a small gallery of paintings.

    Chinesische Haus

    • Am Grüen Gitter

    • mid-May–mid-Oct: 10am–6pm Tue–Sun

    • 0331 969 42 25

    Römische Bäder

    • Lennéstr

    • late-Apr–end-Oct: 10am–6pm Tue–Sun

    • 0331 969 42 25

    Orangerie

    • Am der Orangerie 3–5

    • May–Oct: 10am–5pm Tue–Sun

    • 0331 969 42 80

    Vase in Park Sanssouci
  4. Schloss Cecilienhof

    This little palace, built in the style of an English country manor house, entered the history books in 1945, when Germany’s fate was sealed by the Potsdam Conference. Built in 1914–17, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now used as a hotel. It also houses a small exhibition documenting the Conference and the palace’s furnishings.

    • Im Neuen Garten

    • Apr–Oct: 10am–6pm Tue–Sun; Nov–Mar: 10am–5pm Tue–Sun

    • 0331 969 42 44

  5. Schloss Charlottenhof

    A small Neo-Classical palace in Park Sanssouci, built in 1829 by Schinkel for the heir to the throne, Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Particularly worth seeing is the tent-like Humboldtsaal.

    • Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 34a

    • May–Oct: 10am–6pm Tue–Sun

    • 0331 969 42 28

  6. Marmorpalais

    This small, early Neo-Classical palace at the side of the lake was built in 1791–7 by Carl Gotthard Langhans and others. It features an elegant concert hall as well as contemporary furniture and porcelain.

    • Heiliger See (Neuer Garten)

    • Apr–Oct: 10am–6pm Tue–Sun; Nov–Mar: 10am–5pm Sat, Sun

    • 0331 969 42 46

    Marmorpalais
  7. Holländisches Viertel

    A pleasant way to explore the district of Potsdam is a walk through the historic Old Town, with its art galleries, cafés and restaurants. Built between 1733 and 1742, the area originally served as a settlement for Dutch workers after whom it is now named. The small red-brick buildings are decorated with attractive stucco ornaments.

    • Friedrich-Ebert-, Kurfürsten-, Hebbel-, Gutenbergstr

  8. Nikolaikirche

    Potsdam’s most attractive church was designed by Schinkel in 1830 in an early Neo-Classical style. Its giant dome is particularly striking.

    • Am Alten Markt

    • 10am–5pm Mon–Sat; 11:30am–5pm Sun

    • 0331 270 86 02

    Nikolaikirche on Alter Markt
  9. Marstall (Filmmuseum)

    The small museum, based in the Baroque former stable buildings of the king’s town residence, uses old cameras, props and projectors to document the history of German film.

    • Breite Str. 1a

    • 10am–6pm Mon–Sun

    • 0331 27 18 10

    Marstall (Filmmuseum)
  10. Filmpark Babelsberg

    The Filmpark offers visitors a tour of the legendary UFA-Studios, which were among the world’s most important when they operated here in Babelsberg from 1917 to 1945. Exciting U-boat trips, stunt performances and special effects are shown.

    • Großbeerenstr

    • Apr–Oct: 10am– 6pm daily

    • 0331 721 27 50

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