Potsdam is a wonderful and easy day trip from Berlin, providing you a bit of easy respite from the hustle and bustle of Berlin. Located in the southwestern edge of Berlin, Potsdam is actually older, but much smaller, than Germany’s capital. It is the capital of the state of Brandenburg, has approximately 165,000 inhabitants, and is home to a well-respected university.
The city is famous for being the summer home of the Hohenzollerns, the Prussian royal family, and for being the site of the Potsdam Conference in the summer of 1945. Located in former East Germany, it was heavily restored in the post-Wall period. There is a local S-Bahn train that runs out to Potsdam every ten minutes from central Berlin.
Your guide can meet you either in Berlin, or directly in Potsdam, and can show you Prussia’s glorious past while exploring the town, as well as the palaces and gardens, which were almost entirely spared during the bombings of World War II.
On a standard Potsdam tour, you can expect to see the following:
- Cecilienhof Palace – The last palace built by the Hohenzollern’s, this English-style palace became the site of the Potsdam Conference, which was held several weeks after World War II ended in Europe.
- Marble Palace – Built in the late 1700s under the reign of Friedrich William II, this modest but beautiful palace was used as a military museum under the East German regime, and recently restored.
- KGB Prison – Located on the edge of the city, a former religious building was converted by the Soviets into a KGB prison. The entire area was strictly off-limits for the locals, and the former prisoners and locals alike were shocked to discover such a building in their backyard.
- Alexandrovka – A Russian colony north of the city center built in the early 1800s on the order of Friedrich William III. It originally housed a group of Russian choir members forced to move to Potsdam, some of whose descendants still live in the same houses.
- Dutch Quarter – A beautifully-restored part of the city center, the Dutch Quarter was built by Dutch carpenters to house local families, as well as the soldiers of the Prussian military.
- Brandenburg Gate – Potsdam’s own version of Berlin’s famous symbol was built as a triumphal arch after Frederick the Great’s victory in the Seven Years’ War. It is actually older than the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
- Church of Peace – Located at the edge of the Sanssouci Gardens, this church was built under the reign of Frederick Wilhelm IV in the style of an Italian monastery, and houses a 13th century Venetian mosaic.
- Sanssouci Gardens – Designed in the French Baroque style, the park is home to greenhouses, fountains, temples, and obelisks, as well as the Chinese Tea House. It is situated along a 2.5km pedestrian avenue, with the New Palace at the far end.
- Sanssouci Palace – The highlight of Potsdam and Frederick the Great’s Rococo masterpiece, the Sanssouci Palace is a stunning one-story palace situated on a series of terraces. Frederick the Great is buried beside the palace, along with his beloved dogs.
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