The 17 best sights of Potsdam – descriptions and photos

Potsdam

Potsdam, Germany: the most detailed and complete city guide, the main sights of Potsdam with photos and descriptions, location on the map.

The city of Potsdam (Germany)

Potsdam is a city in eastern Germany, located 25 km southwest of Berlin. The capital of the federal state of Brandenburg has undergone an amazing transformation from a small garrison town to the royal capital and has become one of the main architectural gems of Europe. Potsdam has 17 magnificent palaces and beautiful parks, masterpieces of architecture and culture that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Potsdam is located on the river Havel on moraine plain rich rivers and lakes. The highest point of the city – 114 m. Green areas cover about 3/4 of the city. Climate is temperate with a maritime influence. Summers are warm, winters are fairly mild with some frosts.

Havel River.

River Havel

Potsdam is one of the most beautiful and most visited cities in Germany, and its location near Berlin makes it a very popular destination for day trips.

What to do (Potsdam):

Potsdam: the encyclopedia of Prussian kings

€185 per tour

Potsdam: The Encyclopedia of Prussian Kings

History of Prussia and World War II on a guided tour of the city and the original palaces

Tourist information

  1. The population is more than 150,000 inhabitants.
  2. Official language is German.
  3. Currency is euro.
  4. Visa – Schengen.
  5. Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  6. There are many souvenir stores, cafes and restaurants in Holland Quarter.

History

Potsdam was founded around the 10th century on the site of a Slavic settlement, when Emperor Otto III granted the land to the abbey. In 1345 he received the city rights. In 1416 the city became part of the possessions of the Hohenzollerns. But until the 16th century Potsdam remained a small trading settlement. During the Thirty Years War was significantly destroyed.

Everything changed in 1660, when the Duke of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm I chose the town as his hunting residence. Later the town became the residence of the Prussian kings. Most of the magnificent palaces were built under Frederick the Great.

Potsdam in the 19th century

Potsdam in the 19th century

The city became the second capital of Germany. The Supreme Court and many government agencies were located here.

During World War II the historical center of Potsdam was destroyed by bombing by the British and Americans.

How to get there

Potsdam is actually a suburb of Berlin. The city is located 25 km west of the capital of Germany. From Berlin to Potsdam you can get by S-Bahn line S7. BC Berlin area tickets will also be valid in Potsdam.

Historic center

Historic city center

Berlin’s two airports are located near Potsdam. The A10 freeway adjoins the city. The public transport system is a bit confusing and consists of streetcars and buses. Public transport is zonal and is part of the Berlin transport system. Tickets can be purchased on every streetcar and bus. Many new ticket machines accept cards, coins and bills.

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Main tourist lines:

  • Bus 695 – main train station, Sans Souci Palace and Park, Orangerie, Belvedere.
  • Streetcar 62 – main train station, Dutch Quarter, Russian Colony.

Sightseeing

Potsdam’s most important monuments of culture and architecture are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. More than 100 monuments currently have this status, spread over an area of 500 hectares. The cultural landscape of Potsdam is one of the largest in Germany and Europe.

Palaces and parks

17 impressive palaces and gardens are the main attractions of Potsdam.

Sans Souci palace

Sans Souci Palace

Sans Souci is a palace complex, the jewel of Potsdam and the favorite residence of Frederick the Great. The castle was built in the mid-18th century and is considered the most important Rococo building in Germany. The castle is adjoined by beautiful terraced gardens with fountains, orangery, and Roman baths. Entrance to the palace is paid.

New Palace

New Palace

The New Palace is an architectural masterpiece built in the western part of Sans Souci. It is the largest building of the complex and one of the largest palaces of Potsdam, the interiors of which are strikingly luxurious. The new palace is one of the most important monuments of German Baroque architecture.

Greenhouse

Orangery Palace

The Orangery Palace is a huge late Renaissance palace located in the park of Sans Souci. Interestingly, its length is 300 meters and by this parameter it exceeds the length of the New Palace. This palace was completed in 1860 by Friedrich Wilhelm IV. The orangery palace copied its appearance from many famous buildings in Florence: the Villa Medici, the Uffizi, etc. The wings of the building in summer are full of subtropical plants, which is why the palace proper got its name.

New Garden

New Garden

The New Garden is a park of 102 hectares, located near the Holy Lake. It was laid out by order of Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1787. In the Cecilienhof palace in 1945 held the Potsdam conference.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden of the University of Potsdam contains over 10,000 plants. There even grows a sequoia.

Lindstedt Palace

Lindstedt Palace

Lindstedt Palace – located near the Sans Souci Park a little off the tourist trails. It was built in the middle of the 19th century in the style of romantic classicism.

Glinnicke Palace

Glinicke Palace

Glinicke Palace and Park – located on the bank of the river Havel. It was built in the 30s of the 19th century by Prince Charles of Prussia after his trip to Italy.

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle is a romantic mid-19th-century palace built by Friedrich Wilhelm IV. The palace sits on a 76 meter high hill and offers one of the most beautiful views of Potsdam.

Castle and Park Babelsberg

Babelsberg Castle and Park

Babelsberg Castle and Park is the residence of Kaiser Wilhelm, built in the 19th century. It is located in the eastern part of Potsdam. The palace was built in the neo-Gothic style and the park has a beautiful view.

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Norman Tower

Norman Tower

The Norman Tower is an artificially created ruin on a hill with an observation deck. From here you have a beautiful view of the Sans Souci.

The tower in the park Babelsberg

The tower in the park Babelsberg

Tower in the park Babelsberg is a beautiful neo-Gothic building, built in the mid-19th century. It has a height of 46 meters.

Marble Palace

Marble Palace

The Marble Palace is a highlight of Classicism, built in the late 18th century from brick and marble.

Other sights in Potsdam

Historic center

Historic city center

The Old Market is the heart of Potsdam. It is one of the oldest squares in the city. The main architectural highlight of the square is the 19th century Baroque Church of St. Nicholas.

Nauen Gate

Nauen Gate

The Nauen Gate is one of the three city gates of Potsdam, built in the mid-18th century by order of Friedrich II. They are considered one of the first Neo-Gothic structures in Europe.

Hunting Gate

Hunter’s Gate

The Hunter’s Gate is a small gate that was built in 1733. It is the oldest surviving city gate of Potsdam.

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is a triumphal gate completed in 1770. It was built to commemorate the end of the Seven Years’ War.

Glinnicke Bridge

Glinicke Bridge

The Glinnicke Bridge connects Potsdam and Berlin. It is one of the symbols of the Cold War and the division of Germany. It served as a border function between the GDR and the FRG.

Interesting tours

Nuremberg through the ages

€95 for a guided tour

Nuremberg through the ages

Hear the history of the most interesting places in the Old Town and get valuable tips from locals

On both sides of the barricades: a walking tour of Berlin

€110 per excursion

On both sides of the barricades: a walking tour of Berlin

Be absorbed in the history of the capital and see its key sights for 3 hours

17 sights worth seeing in Potsdam

The halls of the New Palace are decorated with paintings and works of art from various times. There are 259 paintings by Dutch and Italian artists from the 15th to 18th centuries. Valuable wood, marble, red jasper, tapestries, and silk wallpaper were used in the decoration of the interior.

Valuable furniture, chests of drawers with mosaics, decorated with colorful gilding and bronze, and fireplaces are installed everywhere. A lot of porcelain articles, ancient vases, beautiful statuettes, and floor clocks. The ceilings of the palace are decorated with crystal chandeliers.

The lobby of the building has rich and solemn decoration. Its walls are upholstered with delicate pink silk wallpaper to create an atmosphere of romance. The floor of the second floor hallway is covered with tiles made of rare and valuable woods: rosewood and white beech. Above the doors of the palace are several stucco works of the famous Fechhelm.

The marble hall of the palace is the largest. Its ceiling is curved and decorated with frescos depicting plots from ancient myths. In its decoration there are stucco with gilding, garlands and mosaics. Along the walls of the marble hall there are a number of sculptures: 4 emperors and 8 bishops who had the right to choose the emperor on the throne of the Roman state. These statues are the work of the Dutch sculptor Eggers.

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The Grogue Room, whose windows overlook the park, is decorated with petrified wood and precious stones, the decoration also includes various minerals, coral, shells, white marble and glass slag. The ceiling is decorated with a painting of “Venus and the Graces” by the artist Johann Niedlich. The floor is lined with a mosaic of multicolored marble; it depicts paintings with silhouettes of sea inhabitants and underwater plants.

The hunting room of the complex is rich with stuffed dogs. Its door jambs resemble massive trunks of oaks. The armchairs in this room have sculpted armrests on which are depicted Friedrich II’s favourite dogs. Several massive tables are located here. The chandelier is made of Berlin porcelain.

The green palace study is upholstered with silk wallpaper of an emerald hue. Also in this room is a coin cupboard decorated with gilded inlays.

Part of the furniture from the study of William II.

The architect took the Potsdam City Palace as his model for the design of the theater. In its interior, the colors white, red, and gold prevail. The walls are richly decorated with stucco and have elements of woodcarving ornamentation. The theater reminds the ancient theater as the chairs in it are located in a semicircle and rise from the stage; above them there are two balcony boxes which rest on columns finished with gilt.

History of Creation

The history of the palace begins immediately after the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, although the first designs for the building were proposed earlier by architects Johann Bühring and Heinrich-Ludwig Manger.

Prussian King Frederick II (the Great) decided to demonstrate to neighboring powers that bloody battles had not been able to undermine the power of his state.

It took only seven years and the construction of the palace complex, unprecedented in its splendor, was completed.

The complex included

  • the new palace building
  • commune
  • a wide colonnade with a triumphal arch

Commune Colonnade

In 1990 the entire palace complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Architectural features

At the request of the king, the palace building was built in the late Baroque style.

The center of the structure is crowned by a dome with three crown-carrying graces. A total of 428 sculptures are placed on the roof.

We caught a reconstruction of the building. Some of the sculptures were assembled below the roof and covered with mesh. It looked rather bizarre, as if people weren’t allowed outside and were outraged, and some of them had taken their clothes off for some reason.

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The opulent and stately building was intended for official receptions, and in fact served as a hotel for distinguished guests. Frederick the Great himself lived in his Grape House (as he called his modest Sans Souci palace).

The new palace pleased Emperor Frederick III. He renamed the New Palace the Friedrichskron (Schloß Friedrichskron) and ordered a moat to surround the building. Probably serious architectural changes were waiting for the castle, but the period of rule of the new owner was too short. Only 99 days.

The last emperor Wilhelm II had no less soft spot for the palace and also chose to make it his residence.

The buildings of the palace complex

  • The grounds of the royal hotel are mainly made up of individual apartments, the interior of which is decorated in rococo style. In the middle of the building there are luxurious ceremonial halls, and in the southern wing there is a court theater.
  • The Grotto Room occupies a special place in the palace, with large windows looking onto the park. It is decorated with semi-precious stones, petrified wood and gilded bronze.

  • The interior of the vestibules and rooms is decorated with numerous paintings. These are works by European artists of the 16th-18th centuries. Other rooms exhibit the “Potsdam Gallery”, which vividly demonstrates the history of the palace: from its construction to the present day.
  • A special place in the complex is occupied by the communes, which were once used as outbuildings. And now a pedagogical institute is situated there. The communes also serve to enclose the swampy area to the west of the palace and so ennoble the royal park.

Commune Colonnade

Potsdam sightseeing tour

If you’re interested in a tour of the New Palace, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the other sights in Potsdam as well. In order to have an interesting and informative sightseeing tour, it is always worthwhile to ask a professional guide to give you a guided tour.

opening times

  • Summer from April to October: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Winter, November to March: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday is a day off!

How much is it?

Regular ticket costs 8 euros, concessionary ticket 6 euros.

The price includes a multilingual audio guide. If you want to see other sights besides the New Palace, I recommend you to buy a combined sanssouci + Ticket. It costs 19 euros for adults, 14 euros for children.

In the park itself there is a parking lot and a nice cafe not far from the New Palace.

How to get there

The New Palace is west of the Sans Souci Park in Potsdam and can be reached by S-Bahn train from the three Berlin train stations and the airport.

The best way to get around Potsdam itself is by bicycle, which costs 12 euros per day.

Museum Am Neuen Palais, Park Sanssouci, 14469 Potsdam, Germany

Architecture

The three-story palace complex stretches over a length of 213 meters. It contains 322 windows, 428 statues and 230 pylons. Part of the architectural ensemble is a colonnade together with a triumphal arch. On the facade and on the balustrade on the roof of the building there are 400 statues of ancient gods.

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The statues on the balustrade (parapet) on the roof of the palace.

In the middle of the palace above the main entrance is a dome, the height of 55 meters, visually increasing the height of the entire palace. On it are three graces carrying the crown of the kings of Prussia: Aglaia, Euphrosyne, Thalia. They symbolize beauty, joy and abundance.

The other domes are smaller, but no less richly decorated and topped with golden eagles.

Frederick the Great was very fond of the old brickwork buildings he had seen in Holland, but they could not make enough building material in Prussia in those days. So the architects resorted to deception: the walls of the building imitate red brick masonry, except for its south wing, which is actually built of natural brick. In this wing are the royal apartments.

The palace has decorative window openings and its walls are decorated with moldings and fluted pilasters.

These are the windows of the mezzanine (a decorative superstructure over the main part of the house). In the photo, you can see the windows-illuminators, called “bull’s-eye”. The windows of the palace are decorated with heads and wings. The windows are divided by pilasters (projections imitating columns).

The facade of the central building is decorated with a bas-relief showing the scenes of the birth of the legendary Pegasus and his rescue from the sea monster, as well as the scenes of Perseus beheading the Gorgon, the sea jellyfish.

In front of the building is a square intended for festive celebrations and ceremonies, as well as military parades.

Because the complex was meant to be used as a hotel, inside it is divided into separate chambers. In the middle of the structure there are sumptuous halls for official receptions and festive celebrations. But the main highlight of the palace is the court theater, which occupies 2 floors.

The communes – living quarters for the staff – were copied from the Grand Commons located in Versailles. They also contain a kitchen and several utility rooms. Some later additions included an annex on the north side for the guardsmen and rooms for the castellan on the south side. After the Second World War a college was opened in the communes and today the philosophy department of the University of Potsdam is located there.

The engraving shows the commune with the colonnade of those times. The colonnade was originally intended to block the view from the windows of the palace to the marsh behind the park. The communes were guest houses for travelers and dwellings for servants.

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