Prussia’s kings and prince electors created a fascinating retreat comprising palaces and parklands in Potsdam. With over 500 hectares of parks and 150 buildings constructed between 1730 and 1916, Potsdam's complex of palaces and parks was a model for excellence across Europe. The original 17 palaces are spread across three parks in Potsdam and its city centre. They offer a huge ensemble of palaces shaping one the largest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. Every Prussian ruler has left his own legacy to the city with his buildings. Those who know the rulers' history and life will quickly recognize which palace was built by which king. They reflect power and wealth as well as love for Italian architecture and Chinoiserie style.
Each façade not only decorated a representative building, but ornamented constructions for practical use. The huge Orangery Palace for example is based on the Villa Medici in Rome and displays the stone carved longing for Italy of Frederick William IV. With its two huge plant halls and the ingenious heating system, however, it is still used today as the winter home for the frost-sensitive potted plants of Sanssouci Park.
The Dragon House not far away, with its curved roofs, is a great example of the Chinoiserie style loved by Frederick II. and was the residence of the parks winegrower. Built in the English neo-Gothic style, Babelsberg Palace is located in Babelsberg Park and offers a great view over the River Havel.
Other buildings improved the appearance of the useful. The water basin on the Ruinenberg Hill behind Sanssouci Palace once only served as a water reservoir which fed the parks fountains. Frederic II then had the Norman Tower and his imitation of a ruin of a round temple with colossal columns built around the basin.
You will discover many other fascinating stories about the palaces once you get inside. Which palace did Frederick Wilhelm IV receive for Christmas? Why is there always a potato lying on Fredericks grave and what’s the story behind the red star in the court of honour at Cecilienhof Country House? There are stories in each and every corner of Potsdam’s park landscape. Take your time to discover and explore.
If you have further questions just ask our Potsdam experts in our Service Center – by phone on +49 (0) 331 2755 88 99.