Tour of Potsdam's Sanssouci Park, Part 1 (Self Guided), Potsdam

Sanssouci Park is a unique Potsdam landmark that occupies 290 hectares in the center of the city. You will learn more about the history of Prussia during the reign of Frederick the Great by walking through this marvelous park than by reading a history book. Take this tour to discover the beautiful, historic landmarks found at the east entrance of Sanssouci Park.
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Tour of Potsdam's Sanssouci Park, Part 1 Map

Guide Name: Tour of Potsdam's Sanssouci Park, Part 1
Guide Location: Germany » Potsdam (See other walking tours in Potsdam)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Friedenskirche
  • Obelisk
  • Neptune Grotto
  • Bildergalerie
  • Sanssouci Palace
  • Historic Mill
  • New Chambers
  • The Terraced Gardens
  • The Labyrinth
  • Chinese House

1) Friedenskirche (must see)

The Protestant Friedenskirche, or the Church of Peace, is situated in the Marly Gardens on the Green Fence in the palace grounds of Sanssouci Park. The church was built according to the wishes of the artistically gifted King Frederick William IV and was designed by the court architect Ludwig Persius. The church is a columned basilica with three naves and no transept. It has a free-standing bell tower. The 13.5-meter-high central nave overlaps the side aisles, which are half as wide. An arcade of central arches mark the crossing point. An etching of the Basilica di San Clemente in Rome made by early Christians resembles a draft design of the Potsdam church. The altar canopy, which rests on four dark green columns, was created from Siberian jasper (semi-precious stones) and was a gift from Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, the king's brother in law. It was installed in the Church of Peace in 1842. An arcade surrounds the inner courtyard.
Sight description based on wikipedia

2) Obelisk

The Obelisk entrance (German Obeliskportal) constitutes the eastern limit of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. Following plans by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, Frederick the Great ordered in 1747 that this exit from the park be built. The New Palace, built at a later date, stands in the line of sight of the entrance; the two are connected by the roughly 2 km long main alley.

Two sandstone statues from the workshop of the sculptor Friedrich Christian Glume stand next to the pillars positioned in a square, right and left from the lower gateway to the park. Flora, the goddess of flowers, and Pomona, the goddess of fruit, draw attention to the fusion of the ornamental and kitchen garden styles in the park.

The obelisk entrance was used in Frederick's time solely as an exit from the park. This is the reason that the figures look into the interior of the park, so that they can say farewell to the guests.

The name of the palace is written a few steps beyond the obelisk. Likewise sketched by von Knobelsdorff, it indicates the boundary of Sanssouci Park. The decorative hieroglyphs were given over to the imagination of the artist and thus contain no text, as in the 18th Century a translation of the ancient characters was not possible.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Neptune Grotto

3) Neptune Grotto

The Neptune Grotto, close to the Obelisk entrance in Sanssouci Park, was created by Frederick the Great between 1751 and 1757 to beautify the park. It was built following plans by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. The grotto was meant to have been a component of the numerous fountains in the park. The fountains, however, did not function at that time, owing to a lack of technical knowledge. The trident-wielding god of the sea, Neptune, is the main focus of the grotto. The conchs on the sides, arranged in the shape of waterfalls, as well as the great shell at the center of the grotto, are characteristic elements of Rococo design.
Sight description based on wikipedia

4) Bildergalerie

The Picture Gallery was built from 1755 to 1764 during the reign of Frederick II of Prussia under the supervision of Johann Gottfried Büring. The Picture Gallery is situated east of the palace and is the oldest extant museum built for a ruler in Germany. During World War II, all the paintings were moved to Rheinsberg Castle in Rheinsberg. Only ten paintings returned from there in 1946, and most of the pictures seemed lost. However, a large collection of paintings confiscated by the Soviet Union was returned in 1958. The gallery hall is magnificently designed with richly gilded ornaments on the slightly curved ceiling. The floor is laid out in matching colors with a rhombic pattern of white and yellow Italian marble. Some of the works exhibited include Caravaggio's "Increduility of St Thomas", Anthony van Dycks "Pentecost", and "Four Evangelists" and "Saint Hieronymus" from the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens.

Operation hours: May 1 - October 31: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Sanssouci Palace

5) Sanssouci Palace (must see)

Sanssouci is the name of the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park. The palace was designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 to fulfill King Frederick's need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court.

The palace's name emphasises this; it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as "without concerns", meaning "without worries" or "carefree", symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power. The palace is little more than a large single-storey villa—more like the Château de Marly than Versailles. Containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick's personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as "Frederician Rococo", and his feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived it as "a place that would die with him". Because of a disagreement about the site of the palace in the park, Knobelsdorff was fired in 1746. Jan Bouman, a Dutch architect, finished the project.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Historic Mill

6) Historic Mill (must see)

The 40-meter-high original mill was built in 1788, burnt down in 1945 during the final clashes of WWII and was rebuilt in 1993. The mill near the royal residence became famous through a legend that its clattering disturbed Frederick the Great. When the king threatened to confiscate the property using eminent domain, the miller was referred to the Kammergericht, or Supreme Court, in Berlin. The German name for this type of mill, Galerieholländer ("Dutch gallery mill"), refers to the circular gallery on the fourth story of the mill. The mill thus has enormous dimensions.
Sight description based on wikipedia
New Chambers

7) New Chambers (must see)

The New Chambers in Sanssouci Park, were constructed for King Frederick the Great of Prussia from 1771 to 1775. The building, which stands to the west of Sanssouci Palace, serves as a complement to the Picture Gallery, which lies to the east. Both buildings flank the summer palace.

The chambers replaced an orangery, which had been built at that site in 1745 on plans by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff and held the terraces' potted plants during the winter months. Ramps, on which the tubs were taken in and out, serve as reminders of the building's original use. Master builder Georg Christian Unger was commissioned to turn the orangery building into a guesthouse.

The building's basic elements were left alone, as were its size and floor-to-ceiling french doors. The most obvious change was the addition of a cupola on the middle section. The similarities between the architecture of the New Chambers and that of the Picture Gallery are such that the both buildings can be mistaken for the other. The real alteration occurred in the interior, where seven guest rooms and two ballrooms were created. The building is a highpoint of the late style of Frederican Rococo, even though classicism was already largely set as the prevailing taste of the period. The guest rooms were decorated differently with lacquered, painted, or inlaid cabinets, whose costly inlays of native woods decorated the entire wall from the ceiling to the floor.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Terraced Gardens

8) The Terraced Gardens (must see)

On August 10, 1744, Frederick ordered the bare hillside to be transformed into terraced vineyards. Three wide terraces were created, with convex centers to maximize the sunlight. On the partitions of the supporting walls, the brickwork is pierced by 168 glazed niches. Trellised vines from Portugal, Italy, France, and also from nearby Neuruppin, were planted against the brickwork, while figs grew in the niches. The individual parts of the terrace were further divided by strips of lawn, on which were planted yew trees. Low box hedging surrounded trellised fruit, making a circular ornamental parterre. In the middle of this "wheel", 120 steps (now 132) led downward, further dividing the terraces into six. Below the hill, a Baroque ornamental garden, modeled on the parterre at Versailles, was constructed in 1745. The Great Fountain was built at the center of this garden in 1748. From 1750, marble statues were placed around the basin of the fountain.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Labyrinth

9) The Labyrinth (must see)

Frederick the Great surrounded his summer residence with a green oasis. Sanssouci Park has an amazingly diverse array of flora, including wonderful bushes, trees, flowers and herbs. Of special interest is the Labyrinth, located in front of the New Chambers, which has been carefully created from well-maintained bushes.
Chinese House

10) Chinese House (must see)

The Chinese House (German: Chinesisches Haus) is a garden pavilion in Sanssouci Park. Frederick the Great had it built, about seven hundred meters southwest of the Sanssouci Summer Palace, to adorn his flower and vegetable garden. The garden architect was Johann Gottfried Büring, who between 1755 and 1764 designed the pavilion in the then-popular style of Chinoiserie, a mixture of ornamental rococo elements and parts of Chinese architecture.

The unusually long building time of nine years is attributed to the Seven Years' War, during which Prussia's economic and financial situation suffered significantly. Only after the end of the war in 1763 were the chambers inside the pavilion furnished. As the building served not only as a decorative piece of garden architecture but also as a setting for small social events, Frederick the Great ordered the building of a Chinese Kitchen, a few meters south-east of the Chinese House.

After a conversion in 1789, only the hexagonal windows show the Oriental character of the former outbuilding. A few years later, the Dragon House was built in the form of a Chinese pagoda on the northern edge of Sanssouci Park bordering Klausberg. The building was Frederick the Great's attempt to follow the Chinese fashion of the 18th century, which began in France before spreading to England, Germany, and Russia.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Potsdam, Germany

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