Exploring the palaces and gardens of Potsdam
Spring time in Potsdam is the ideal time frame to visit the royal palaces and gardens around Potsdam in Brandenburg, Germany. Home to the Prussian Kings of Germany and their magnificent royal residences, Potsdam became their showpiece close to the city of Berlin and the German equivalent to Versailles. The Sanssouci palaces and gardens are the largest Unesco world heritage site in Germany and worth spending an entire day to visit all the main landmarks throughout the site and attractions around the city.
With temperate German weather during the spring and still being the low season in Germany, a visit to Potsdam is ideal without all the massive crowds that visit the castles during the peak summer periods. Here are some highlights of what you will see in visiting the amazing royal palaces, gardens and other cultural landmarks around the city of Potsdam in Brandenburg.
A colorful garden next to the Havel River
Potsdam is filled with green belts and beautiful parks, in fact the city has over three quarters of green space that take up the entire city limit and the rest allocated for urban development.
Gorgeous details to a public building in Potsdam
Sanssouci park and palaces
Towards the main entrance to the palaces are expansive natural parks with a sprinkling of statuary, greenhouses and other follies that were a retreat for the royal families to enjoy. Broad meadows filled with wild yellow flowers dot the entire grassy areas of the semi forested park. Along the way to the main residences of Sanssouci and the Neues Palais are green houses and beautiful structures like the wire folly and statues on pedestals that pop out unexpectedly in different areas. Following one of the main gravelled roads eventually leads to the stately Neues Palais below. I could have easily enjoyed a simple picnic and explore some of the cool monuments and follies in the park, but there is definitely so much more in store visiting this magnificent site.
Entering the Neues Palais or New Palace
Built 20 years after the smaller villa style of Sanssouci, the Neues Palais was envisioned by Frederick the Great to showcase his power and strength to the rest of the world. A grand palace done in over the top Baroque style that was popular during that time frame, the Neues Palais was designed to impress. Both the exterior and interior of the palace are embellished and filled with multiple statuary, grand staircases, imported luxury materials with gilt details and skilled craft work to present a more is better approach for the Prussian Kings of Germany. It looks like every window detail, rooftop perimeter and even the terraces have to be jammed with excess and be topped with sculpture and architectural details to make the building look even more impressive. Unfortunately, the time I was visiting, a lot of the façade was undergoing restoration to clean and polish the dingy and worn surfaces to bring it back to its former glory. You can see from the image below what the sculptures would look like after a nice power cleaning, and it does make a wonderful difference.
Still a lot of spring cleaning needed to all the exterior statuary and architectural details on the façade
Facing the main residence of the Neues palace were the Communs with its identical buildings and an attached colonnade. These buildings housed the royal kitchens, palace guard, servants, utilities and gardner’s shops. Today the Communs is utilized as the University of Potsdam and is not open to the public for viewing but fun to walk through the perimeter and capture some nice architectural details on the ornate structure.
Touring the interior of the Neues Palais
Just like the lavish details to the exterior, the interior of the Neues Palais reflected the Prussian Kings interest in the grand Baroque and Rococo style which was all about excess, filled with gilted details in all of the state and private the rooms above and below. Even the ceilings and chandeliers where dripping with gold leaf, crystals and fanciful flourishes that were hand carved from skilled craftsmen who were brought in from around the country to create the splendid rooms of the Neus Palais.
Stunning and real silver leaf details in the Silver room
Royal gardens of Sanssouci
Just like the expansive gardens of Versaille, Sanssouci’s gardens are also impressive with a variety of gardens appealing to the all the pomp and grand lifestyle in an outdoor setting. With so many garden rooms on display, it can easily filled up an entire day to explore the different gardens, follies and special areas all around the entire Unesco site (So pick and choose your place of interest because there is a lot to see at this Unesco site). An extensive volunteer and landscape staff from the Sanssouci foundation grow the beautiful seasonal arrangements while maintaining the expansive grounds for visitors to enjoy. Here are some highlights of the different gardens on display and in bloom for springtime.
Life-size golden figures to the Chinese tea house
Views and landscape from Sanssouci Palace
From above Sanssouci Palace, the views below to the formal gardens, reflecting pool and the terraced planting beds create a majestic and scenic vista of the landscape around Potsdam. The summer palace at Sanssouci reflected the Prussian kings version of harmony between nature and man. Directly below Sanssouci palace is a terraced garden of mostly fruit trees and grape vines along walled terraces and colorful annuals on the beds. The “little vineyard house” crowns the hill of terraced plantings and is the personal retreat or Sans souci (“Without a care”) of Frederick the Great and his guests. On a beautiful spring day like today, it is really nice to be outdoors to explore and enjoy the gardens and colorful spring plantings at Sanssouci.
Terraced gardens below Sanssouci palace
There is plenty to see if you love gardens or beautiful landscape and panoramas. The many gardens surrounding Sanssouci are filled with gorgeous focal points, statuary, fountains and interesting follies from a distance that are fun to explore and photograph. This includes the imposing Orangerie (below)that housed the many tropical and citrus plants, the Windmill above Sanssouci palace, an ancient Obelisk and many other garden ornaments around the site.
Looking up the terraced wall garden to Sanssouci palace
Statue fronting the Orangerie
Interior rooms of Sanssouci
Frederick’s little vineyard house was filled with whimsical details and Rococo flourishes on both the exterior and interiors of Sanssouci creating a new style called “Frederician Rococo”. The Prussian king wanted to be surrounded with beautiful objects and works of art which fills up all the decorated rooms to his own personal taste and love of excess and luxury materials. Starting with a grand hall and marbled hall, the state and common rooms progress to more private apartments on the east end of the building. Baroque rooms with marble, gilted wood details and exuberant ornamentation fill the themed rooms in intricate craft work and luxurious materials. Below are some more highlights to the interior apartments of Sanssouci.
Sanssouci grand hall and ornate wall details
Rococo flourishes on the ceilings and walls are a personal favorite style
The colorful birds of the yellow room at Sanssouci
Beautiful marquetry work details
Friedenskirche and colonnade galleries
Friedenskirche or the Protestant Church of Peace located inside the palace grounds is built to resemble more of a medieval style that Frederick William IV requested to be built to resemble the Basilica di San Clemente in Rome. The church was used as a royal chapel and church for the parish of BrandenburgerVorstadt.
A visit to central Potsdam
After exiting the royal palaces of Sanssouci and the Brandenburg gate, it’s worthwhile to walk around Potsdam especially on the main pedestrian promenades in the center of town. The pedestrian only street is filled with small galleries, souvenir shops, cafes and coffee shops and specialty goods stores that are fun to explore. After spending some time visiting Sanssouci, its nice to relax and have a nice meal and there are plenty of eating and drinking options around the walking promenades.
Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Exploring the palaces and gardens of Potsdam, hopefully some of these places will inspire you to visit when you come to the city. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.