Sunday, July 14, 2013

Potsdam: Germany's Versailles

Don't ask me why, but I had a very negative image of Potsdam. I don't know if it was the name, the fact that it was in what was once East Germany, or just pure ignorance on my part. But I sure was wrong about the place. As one guide book put it, it's the Versailles of Germany.

As soon as I started to read about Potsdam in our guide book, I realized it was worthy of a day trip out of Berlin. It's not far, about 50 minutes on the train that runs directly from Potsdamer Platz. The first clue about its significance is that it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site with Prussian royal palaces, villas, pavilions, gardens and parks. The main palace is Frederick the Great's Sans Souci and I'm sure maintaining it was not 'carefree'. It's considered to be one of Germany's finest palaces. There are numerous other palaces and sites worthy of international acclaim.

However, rather than write about them, here are some pictures.

Potsdam has its own Brandenberg Gate
The Orangerie Palace in neoclassical style for the Romantically inclined King Friedrich Wilhelm IV

The gardens of Sanssouci pale in comparison with those of Versailles, but they are not inconsiderable
If you don't like baroque, you might want to give this palace, and many other German palaces a pass

On a tour along the river, a variety of very interesting places can be found
Not everything is beautiful. I came across this and many other older buildings in disrepair. Apparently, as is the case in other German cities, there are buildings that are listed on the heritage registry that cannot be demolished, but there isn't a market, nor are there enough non-market uses to justify their renovation

This may look like Holland, but it isn't. The Dutch Quarter was constructed in the 1730's for Dutch craftsmen invitged to Prussia for their skills. Unfortunately, they didn't all show up.


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