Alexandrovka, the Russian Colony
The Russian Colony Alexandrovka established in 1826 by King Frederick William III. in memory of his close friend, Czar Alexander I., with whom Frederick had allied in the wars against Napoleon. The colony — a collection of half-timber houses with half trunks as façade — was built in the Russian-style of the period and to be “the home of the Russian singers of the First Prussian Regiment of the Guards.” As well, green spaces between the structures were meant to make community socializing and sharing time between the houses easier. The garden arrangement was planned by Peter Joseph Lenné with the aim to provide the Russian choir singers an inspiring atmosphere for music and leisure.
Today, the entire area was added as part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1999. The Russian colony fits into Potsdam’s slate of culturally rich offerings, which the UNESCO calls: “…a series of architectural and landscaping masterpieces [that] have been built within a single space, illustrating opposing and reputedly irreconcilable styles without detracting from the harmony of a general composition that has been designed progressively over time.”
The colony was, and is, comprised of thirteen log-cabin homes (where some of the descendants of the original occupants still live), a chapel, and a “royal country house.” The complex, which includes the Museum Alexandrovka, represents one of the area’s most unique discoveries — rooted in friendship, history, and authentic traditions. The museum, in house number 2, was opened in 2005. Its purpose is to provide historic information and share exhibitions with visitors to better explain the colony and show an accurate depiction of life during the period of the settlement at its height. The rooms within the showcase are furnished in the Biedermeier style. The exhibitions contain placards to provide information and two films to give patrons of a more interactive and better sense of the period.
Following a tour to learn about the era, the architecture, and the colony’s backstory, visitors are encouraged to stay around for a while to admire the reconstructed garden with more than 500 fruit varieties, which are again being cultivated. After, pick up a souvenir in the shop, and then relax in the café among the gardens.
When visitors come to the colony, located in northern Potsdam, they will get a sense of history when they stroll to Kapellenberg Hill with its small Russian orthodox church dating back to the 19th century. From there, it is not far to Potsdam’s highest natural elevation: Pfingstberg Hill, which is behind the Jewish cemetery. At this picturesque spot, patrons should take the time to admire the temple of Pomona, the goddess of fruit trees and Schinkel’s first building. As well, travelers will notice the Belvedere Pfingstberg with its twin tower structure.