Palaces as far as the eye can reach
If you love palaces you will be spoilt for choice. Potsdam has the highest amount of Palaces per inhabitant in Germany. With 16 Palaces and three historic parklands, history and garden lovers will get one's money's worth. Prussia’s kings and prince electors created a fascinating retreat comprising palaces and parklands. Many parts of the overall ensemble, especially the historic palaces and gardens, were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1990. The World Heritage Site in Potsdam ranges from Sanssouci Park to the Russian Colony of Alexandrovka, the New Garden, Babelsberg Palace and Park with the adjoining observatory and Sacrow to Peacock Island and Glienicke in Berlin. The entire cultural landscape impresses with its authenticity and uniqueness and the numerous influences from Italy, France and Holland which merge here.
Proud for his Parks and Palaces, Potsdam has also a great history in filmmaking. In fact Potsdam is the birthplace of the film as we know it. Images first started moving in the city of Babelsberg, which is now a part of Potsdam. The world’s first silent film was made here in 1912. Marlene Dietrich and Heinz Rühmann were the star idols at UFA, where these days George Clooney and Tom Hanks are making films here. Best examples are the famous series of Homeland or Berlin Station as well as international blockbusters such as The Pianist, The Monuments Men, Inglorious Bastards and The Bridge of Spies. Latter is telling the story of the Glienicke Bridge during Cold War.
If you want to know more about the history of film making, the film museum Potsdam with it’s permanent exhibition “The Dreamfactory – 100 Years of Film in Babelsberg” get you interactively involved while learning about the process of filmmaking.
Potsdam in Cold War Years
Just next to Berlin Potsdam in Cold War years was the hotspot for eastern and western secret services and the Glienicke Bridge (Bridge of Spies) was used for exchanges of captured spies. Having a look at the Glienicke Bridge from further away you can see that the bridges coat of paint is slightly brighter on the eastern side than on the west one.
Only a 20 minutes-walk away at Cecilienhof Palace in 1945 the Potsdam Conference was held. Here the allies Soviet Union, United Kingdom and the United States agreed to divide Germany into four occupation zones, which later led to the division of Europe.
Just west of Cecilienhof Palace is a neighborhood that wasn’t easy to access in cold war years. In fact only residents, who lived there and agents where aloud to enter this part of Potsdam as it domiciled the German Headquarter of the Russian secret service KGB. The former KGB-prison is now a memorial giving you deep insight of the former conditions. Numerous inscriptions on the cell walls impressively reflect the deprivation of rights and isolation of the prisoners. The permanent exhibition shows the history of the building and tells about prisoner’s fates that set you into a goosebumps-mood right away.
These three subjects only show you a glimpse of the variety Potsdam has to offer. The longer you stay, the more you can explore your own Potsdam. Enjoy the first daylight at Potsdam highest viewpoint the Belvedere Pfingstberg, take a stroll through the Dutch Quarter and let the day pass on cruising down the river Havel.