I thought Potsdam was an interesting town but the highlight for me was our chance to explore the enormous park west of the town of Potsdam. The park has numerous Palaces or Schloss created during the reign of Frederick the Great, but the nearest royal residence to the town is the SansSouci Palace (built between 1745 - 47) which gives its name to the entire park. Frederick would spend the summer here, presumably to get away from the hustle of Berlin. I'd like to visit in summer because the terraced gardens that lead up to the Palace will be resplendent with vines against the walls of the terraces. You get a good view over Potsdam from here too. In winter the statues are protected from frost by wooden shelters.
We didn't go in the Palace - there was a queue to buy tickets (8Euros) and then a queue to actually get in so be prepared for a bit of a wait if you do want to go inside the Schloss.
Further into the Park there are other stately piles including an Italianate Palace and a lovely chinese style house with gold leaf statues of musicians.
The grounds are very well laid out and landscaped so it's a good place to look out for birds. There were Mandarin duck appropriately enough on the stream near the Chinese house.
Further west you walk for another 5 minutes towards an enormous palace rather unimaginatively called the New Palace - built between 1763 - 69. This is enormous and just when you think that must be enough you peer around the corner and behind it are two more huge mansions symmetrically placed on either side of a curved colonade. This structure is currently (Dec 11) under renovation so the steel girders do spoil the effect but you can still appreciate the enormity of it all and marvel at the king's wealth. This park must have been built to try to get one up on the Palace of Versailles near Paris.
There are other impressive buildings in the park including the Cecilienhof Palace, a smaller early 20th century Schloss, where the post WWII Potsdam conference took place.
So if you enjoy marvelling at historic palaces for the rich, royal and powerful this park should be on your Berlin itinerary.
In 1976, I wrote to my mother as follows: We went to Fred the Great’s San Souci castle. We had to wear oversized slippers. Then we went to lunch at 2 o’clock and finish at 4. We saw where the Potsdam Agreement was signed. Grandmummy took a picture of the wall from the house. A lady saw her and described her to a man. A lady heard this and told her to put on her overcoat and then we slipped out. After that we came back to the hotel.
What happened was - someone saw my grandmother taking the picture. She told the guard about it - in German. One of the other people on our tour overheard the lady telling the guard, and warned my grandmother what was said. So we put our coats on to change our appearance, and got back on the bus.
Unfortunately I don't have my grandmother's picture from inside the palace of the border from the East German side.
My camera wasn't working well, so I only have four photos that I can identify positively as of the gardens of the palace.
When I was looking for information on visiting, I found this in an article by the NY Times:
Sans Souci Palace can only be visited with a guide. Tip: It is best (especially in summer) to show up before noon to buy your tickets for the palace tour. At busy times, all the slots for the rest of the day can be completely filled by noon. The palace is open April to October Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm, and November to March Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm. Guided tours (in English) of the palace cost 8€ to 12€ ($13-$19) for adults, 5€ to 8€ ($8-$13) for students and children 6 to 18, free for children 5 and under.
Completed in 1917, this palace was designed by Paul Schultze-Naumburg for Crown Prince Wilhelm and his wife Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It was built in the style of the English Tudor homes (never mind that Germany and Britain were at war at the time). This was the last palace built for the Hohenzollern dynasty. Two years later, Kaiser Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate following Germany's bitter defeat in World War I.
In July 1945, the victorious Allied leaders of World War II, President Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Josef Stalin, met here to settle the fate of Europe. These three men, known as the "Big Three", redrew the continent's boundaries and decided which countries would be in the Soviet sphere of influence and which would be free.
Photos are not allowed inside the palace. Be sure to stroll about the palace grounds; there are some nice footpaths that offer views of the woods and Jungfernsee, a huge lake nearby.
King Frederick Wilhelm II, also known as Frederick the Great, was king of Prussia during the 18th century. A friend of Voltaire and patron of the arts, he became known as the "Philosopher King". He was also a formidable battle leader during the Seven Years' War (1756-63). Known as the French and Indian War in America, it was a worldwide conflict pitting Prussia and Britain against France, Austria, and Russia. Frederick the Great defeated armies from all three opposing countries in a series of battles. Meanwhile, the British took control of Canada and gained dominion over India.
Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff and Jan Bouman designed this palace, which was completed in 1747. Frederick the Great eventually retired to this palace in Potsdam, near Berlin. Sanssouci means carefree, in French. Here he spent his last days with his eleven beloved dogs, whose names are, alas, lost to history.
Today, Sanssouci is the German answer to Versailles. Though not nearly so huge, it has a lovely baroque style. Nearby are some fake ruins, very fashionable in those days. It's a UN World Heritage Site. The King's remains were transferred here, following a long odyssey (too long to be recounted here), in 1990.
sPerfect for a daily trip is the village of Potsdam,about 30 minuts from Berlin city centre by S-Bahn.
main turistic attractive is the royal palace(called Sanssouci,which was the summer residency of Frederick the Great ),which can be defined as a German Versailles.
Beautiful park all around the palace and guided visits indoor,in different languages.
the Potsdam city is a very pleasured visit too,cause,even if it's a small city,offers many different district(russian quartier,dutch quartier for example)
A perfest mixture of past and modern.enjoiy it!
Potsdam is situated south west of Berlin. The most popular park there is Sanssouci Park and can be easily reached by bus from the train station, just check the transport map outside the station. Don't forget you need a ticket for C zone to get here. Free entrance.
In Potsdam you will find a gorgeous historical city centre (it is on your way on the bus next to Brandenburg Gate) where you can choose from many restaurants. You can also go for a drink to the beer garden which can be found a bit futher along the way (if you don't go to the centre street, but walk a bit further instead) you will see a big sign.
The historic city of Potsdam is an easy train ride from Berlin and is well worth a visit. There are too many things of interest to see properly in just one day but if you plan your route, you can at least get a glimpse of a lot of them. There's an excellent printable map here - http://www.potsdam-tourism.com/media/potsdam_stadtplan_engl.pdf - which guides you around the main sights and I found it invaluable.
When you arrive, walk across the bridge from the Railway Station and the first thing you'll see on your right is the Nicolaikirche Church and the Altem Rathaus (old city hall). This can be your starting point for a walk around the city.
Dotted around the route are some lovely churches and the Town Gates dating back to the 1700's when Potsdam was enclosed by a city wall. Make sure you see the charming Dutch Quarter - several streets of Dutch-style houses built between 1734 to 1742 for Dutch craftsmen, who had been invited to come to Potsdam by King Frederick Wilhelm I.
The main pedestrianised shopping street runs from Potsdam's own Brandenburg Gate (c.1770) to the Church of St Peter & St Paul and has some lovely little shops and cafes.
Probably the most visited attraction is the enormous Park Sanssouci and its palaces - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You could easily spend an entire day here. Be aware though, that during winter the numerous statues and fountains are boarded up to protect them from the elements. Still, it makes a nice place to walk and the historic buildings and palaces are stunning, whatever the season.
Nice half day tour to a city with well preserved imperial time buildings and a park with different palaces and royal kiosks. Beautiful but dim during winter, also dissappointing the fact that all palaces were closed and we could see them only from outside.
See also tips about Potsdam tourist traps and transportation.
For those of you old enought to remember the cold war this bridge is something of an Icon. This is the place where the two sides used to exchange prsioners, made famous by people like John Le Carre. Easy to get to it's a bit of pilgramage and it's a nice start for the walk around the ajoining park.
Potsdams unique sight is the Sanssoucci Palace (meaning: "without care") built by the Prussian king Frederick the Great. It has marvelous rococco architecture, extensive gardens, and ornamental buildings and fountains all over the place. Potsdam is not just about Sanssoucci: It has beautiful neo-classical villas, the "Dutch Quarter", an ensemble of Russian wooden houses and an orthodox church (built by the the Russian community).
This large, grandiose park contains numerous palaces and monuments, but is in itself an attraction. Studded with sculptures and fountains, its more overgrown and free than the manicured gardens of France, with an almost fairytake quality about it (especially the terraces leading down from Schloss Sansoucci).
I would say this is the most spectacular of the Potsdam places, begining with its situation atop a grand set of staircases and continuing with its neo-renaissance arches and collonades. By no means miss the beautiful views from the towers.
The French name, which translates as "Not a Worry", might give an idea of the frivolous Roccoco style of the oldest palace in Potsdam. Built for Frederick the Great, Sansoucci's pastel hued interiors and vivid yellow facade certainly make it stand out against the landscape of Sansoucci Park. The palace can only be seen on a German-only guided tour.
Potsdam is a relatively small city outside of Berlin. While Berlin is the national capital, Potsdam is the state capital. A C-zone (as in A,B,C) day ticket will get you from Berlin via the S-bahn to Potsdam and give you unlimited travel on the public transport there too. A wonderful place to do a day trip if you are visiting Berlin!
I loved this place, it was my favourite palace/castle in the whole of Europe. :) If you get the chance make sure you do a tour of both palaces (old and new), although the New Palace is much more interesting inside...
The New Palace is open Sunday - Thursday. April to October 9 am to 5 pm, Novmber to March 9 am to 4 pm.
Schloss Sanssouci is open daily. April to October 9 am to 4 pm, February and March 9 am to 4 pm, November to January 9 am to 3 pm.