Potsdam – A Prussian Jewel
With its twelve palaces and wonderful parks, Potsdam is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Germany. Located only a few miles from Berlin, the city used to be the seat of Prussian kings and later German Kaisers, and it is now the capital of the Brandenburg federal state. It is situated on River Havel and surrounded by a series of interconnected lakes and woodland. Over a millennium old, the city has a lot of interesting stories to tell and remarkable attractions to show.
The 19th century gradually transformed Potsdam into a center of science in the country, and today it boasts more than 30 research institutes as well as three public colleges. Another interesting thing about the city is the fact that it holds the world’s largest large-scale film studio, called Filmstudio Babelsberg. The most important attractions, however, are amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the best of which is the famous Sanssouci Park and its beautiful palace.
The park was developed over four generations, surrounding the iconic Sanssouci Palace, which is the former summer home of Prussian king Frederick the Great. The oldest part of the park was created between 1744 and 1756, flaunting exquisite gardens, beautiful buildings and various works of art. It represents an excellent example of local Rococo style, strongly influenced by the king’s personal tastes.
Surprisingly enough for most first time visitors, the palace itself is but a large one-story villa. The king commissioned it with the sole purpose of having a quiet place in which to be able to put aside all the tiresome ceremonies and pump of his life at the Berlin court. Actually, the name of the palace itself speaks of its purpose: “sans souci” means “without concerns” in French.
This special place of carefree royal living is sometimes referred to as one of Germany’s rivals of Versailles. Even though it is considerably smaller and has a different architectural style than the iconic French castle and its gardens, the beautiful follies and temples of the park justify the comparison between the two.
Another remarkable park in Potsdam is the so called New Garden, commissioned in 1787 by Frederick William II. Its 102.5 hectares of land represent one of UNESCO’s important sites from the “Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin” category. The vast garden borders Lake Jungfernsee and Lake Heiliger See, which brings extra beauty to the whole place.
If you want to see some more of this remarkable city, we suggest you head towards its center and make sure your camera is with you at all times. Just cross the oldest bridge over the Havel, called Lange Brücke, and head towards interesting attractions such as the Old Town Hall, the Film Museum, or the imposing St. Nicholas’ Church.
- For a really special experience, visit the Dutch Quarter with its numerous red brick houses that make up a unique ensemble in Europe.
- Don’t forget that there are numerous other palaces to see besides the iconic Sanssouci.
- Enjoy the good life at a luxury hotel, such as NH Voltaire Potsdam, Romantik Hotel Am Jägertor, or Apartmenthaus Potsdam-Quartett.