While the city of Berlin has great historical focus everywhere you go – it tends to focus on WW1, pre WW2, WW2, Post WW2, the Wall and post the Wall. So it is quite fun to take the 45 minute trip out to Potsdam which wallows much more in the 18th and 19th centuries when every kaiser was called Wilhelm or Freiderich (or Wilhelm Friederich!) and where every member of the family gets their own castle and usually a summer one as well.
Potsdam is such an interesting place with so much to do that I visited over two seperate days – one for the palaces and surrounding grounds (407 acres of them) and another for the old Town, church and museums.
On arrival we started at Schloss Sanssouci built by Frederick the Great – the great German kaiser – who much preferred speaking French and hence the name of this palace – these days he might have called it “Akuna Matata”! This was just his equivalent of a “man shed” where he invited his mates to enjoy art, music, life the universe and everything in the very best of surroundings. His mates included Voltaire who would visit but never stay over? Although the yellow exterior is a little faded and could do with a lick of paint the building is lovely as are the interiors.
Also he was a fan or marquetry so amazing floors and the theme of spider’s web as per the ceiling below was a big thing.
Even beds and doors had to be “hidden” by gorgeous drapes – love it.
Of course the grounds, including the well know Orangerie, around the Schloss which included significant vineyards are lovely to wander around and all grounds are free access so that the locals can enjoy them at weekends for picnics etc.
Just when you think you can’t beat Schloss Sanssouci you come to the real place – the big one known as Neues Palais. It has 200 rooms, a marble hall, a shell grotto and as probably one of the most perfect rococo buildings in existence in the world today. Even though rococo was out of date by the time he built this, he liked that style and stuck with it. I admire his willingness to not go with the pack.
And after all that grandeur, the town of Potsdam itself is not too shabby at all. Some fabulous buildings that look all the more impressive against a blue sky. Everything is done on a grand scale in Berlin and Potsdam.
Then I visited the Museum Barberini (partly because it sounded a bit like Babani). They had an excellent exhibit of Italian art that had been primarily influenced by Caravaggio including the painting of his below. A lot of Potsdam has an affinity to Italy so this exhibit makes a lot of sense.
Also enjoyable in Potsdam is the Holländisches Viertel – the Dutch Quarter which is four streets that are a mini Amsterdam – now with shops and restaurants but beautifully restored. Apparently much of Potsdam was built on swamp land and when it was drained canals were formed – in order to maintain and manage them the mayor at the time enticed people from the Netherlands to move here so that they could be properly maintained by the experts and he built them homes like they had at “home” so they would feel more at home!
A strongly recommended place to see if you are in Berlin and nice to get out of the city without having to go very far at all.