The Castles of Potsdam

When most visitors want to see castles in Germany they do a cruise of the Rhein, where turreted towers are perched on every other hill top overlooking the river thoroughfare. All too often, the summer castles of the Prussian kings in Potsdam, just outside Berlin, are overlooked.

Park Sanssouci houses numerous castles, grottos, temples and extensive parklands and all are within an easy train ride from central Berlin. The most famous is Berlin’s own miniature Versailles, the rococco-style Schloss Sanssouci which is built on a hill lined with terraces of vines. The view from below is beautiful. On the other side of the castle, where the road is, you can see across to the Ruinenberg, a hill with artificial Roman ruins. Because, in the time of Frederick the Great (1748), fake decayed buildings were cool.

Potsdam Sanssouci Palace by Wolfgang Staudt

Potsdam Sanssouci Palace by Wolfgang Staudt

The other big castle in the parklands is the Neue Palais (New Palace) which was built 1763-1769. This pink baroque edifice houses an amazing theatre and a grotto room smothered in seashells and shiny stones. Opposite the main castle are two matching buildings which housed the business side of royalty. Dinners cooked over there in the kitchens were rushed to the King’s halls through underground passageways.

The Orangerieschloss (Orangery Palace) is an Italian renaissance-style palace finished by Friedrich Wilhelm IV. The same king managed to bring fountains to play in the park. Orangeries are buildings created for keeping citrus fruits alive in the cold winters, and are generally large, long buildings lined with shuttered windows that face south. In keeping with the name, the Orangerieschloss has one.
Many other buildings are spread throughout the grounds. An egyptian obelisk marks one of the exits to the park, while the Neptune grotto, having undergone many differnt restorations in centuries past, now lacks the golden Venus that was there pre WWII.

Getting to Potsdam from central Berlin is easy with the S1 or S7 S-bahn lines, although you will have to buy a ticket covering zones A,B and C. Get bus 695 from the Potsdam central train station and it will drop you at Schloss Sanssouci. From here you can start discovering the beauty of the park.

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About Jacinta Lodge

Jacinta Lodge is an Australian expat located in Berlin, Germany. She is a freelance writer, freelance scientist, freelance embroiderer and freelance tourist, and thinks that life probably couldn’t get much better. When not kicking back in the world’s coolest city, she jaunts around Europe in a thirty year old VW bus in the company of a sarcasm-challenged German and a mongrel dog. As well as blogging here, she is a blogger on Berlin for PlanetEye.