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Going to Potsdam!

Written by  Professor Barry Goldsmith

BTHDT Potsdam
The great town of Potsdam (near Berlin) has numerous palaces built over many centuries. The most famous Potsdam Palace is Sanssouci, Frederick the Great’s 18th-century Rococo “Pleasure Palace.”  The translation of “Sanssouci” does homage to its purpose, “Without a care.” It rises on terraced vines which from a distance look more like a cascading fountained-formal garden. While it’s delicately magnificent, it’s only a delightful appetizer to much grander, more historic and more substantial palaces scattered throughout massive Potsdam Park, worthy of a entire day’s exploration.


The largest Potsdam Palace is the 18th-century Neuespalais (“New Palace”), which despite its name is not the newest.  It was the residence of Kaiser Wilhem II until 1918 when he escaped to exile with dozens of freight cars loaded with furniture (most of which remained in storage until returned to the Neuespalais in the late 20th century). See a performance at the exquisite Neuespalais’ built-in theater. Right behind the Neuespalais is the unique, not-to-be missed “Communs” - twin-domed palaces - the most sumptuous servants housing ever!  (Today part of Potsdam University.)  
The Chinese House is a gem with gilt-lifesize Chinese figures surrounding this circular pavilion. Chinese pavilions were very popular in the 18th century, from Kew Garden’s Pagoda (London) to Tsarskoye Selo’s (outside St. Petersburg) miniature Chinese village.
A small palace, Charlottenhof, by the great Karl Freidrich Schinkel, looks like an Ancient Roman seaside villa.  One of its rooms is furnished like a tent.  The most historic Potsdam Palace is also the newest, Cecilienhof, completed just before WWI in an English Tudor style, was the setting of WWII’s famous Potsdam Conference with Churchill, Stalin and Harry Truman. If you decide that one day isn’t enough to see Potsdam, it’s a great place to spend the night, doubling as one of the world’s most historic first class hotels.

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