A Day Trip to Potsdam
The main reason to visit Potsdam is to see Sanssouci Palace, the summer residence of Frederick the Great, built between 1745 and 1747 as a retreat from all the pomp of the royal court in Berlin, and from the queen & all other women — ‘Sansfemmes’ would have been an equally appropriate name. A single-storey enfilade of just ten rooms, the rococo-style palace is in fact more like an oversized summer house, all rather snug, overlooking a magnificent terraced vineyard. Other must-sees are the Picture Gallery of Sanssouci that Frederick had built to house his collection of paintings, of which Caravaggio’s Doubting Thomas is the absolute highlight, the New Chambers of Sanssouci, featuring a succession of elaborately decorated rooms, and the Orangery Palace, which is noted for its collection of 19th-century copies of paintings by Raphael. A bit of a walk down the park, the stately baroque New Palace is terribly nice as well, as are the neoclassical Charlottenhof Villa, designed by architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and the Chinese House in Sanssouci Park, one of the greatest epitomes of chinoiserie.
From the Brandenburg Gate, a triumphal arch built in 1770 & 1771 to celebrate Frederick’s victory in the Seven Years’ War, it’s some 30 minutes by tram (№ 94) & bus (№ 603) to Cecilienhof Country House, a 176-room Tudor-style manor built between 1913 and 1917, where in the summer of 1945 the Potsdam Conference on what to do with Germany took place, which led to the division of Europe and the erection of the Berlin Wall. From the manor house it is just a 10-minute walk to the Leistikowstraße Memorial, a former remand prison of the Soviet military counter-intelligence service, which hosts an exhibition that shows what the prison was used for, and how. Much more pleasant is Museum Barberini, an art museum with a focus on impressionism, which houses close to three dozen paintings by Claude Monet, and many additional works by Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Gustave Caillebotte, among others. If you catch the regional express train, it takes around half an hour to get from Berlin Hbf to Potsdam Hbf or to Park Sanssouci Bhf; an ABC day pass, valid for all local & regional public transport, is € 10.pinnable.eu/potsdam