Discover UNESCO: Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin
Walking the extensive gardens of Sanssouci in Potsdam on a nice, sunny day simply is one of the best things to do when visiting Berlin. What used to be a small garrison town outside of Berlin, changed drastically when Frederick the Great decided to establish his new residence on top of several wine terraces. Sans souci, or without worries, used to be the theme of his small Rococo villa in Potsdam and this theme can still be felt when walking through the sculpted park while visiting some of the palaces that made Sanssouci appear as the Prussian version of Versailles.
- This UNESCO site is quite extensive and includes palaces and parks in locations of Potsdam, Babelsberg and Berlin.
- All palaces and parks were constructed between 1730 and 1916, the UNESCO inscription happened in 1990.
- The main area around the Sanssouci summer palace includes the Picture Gallery, the old and the new Orangery, the Neues Palais, the Belvedere, Chateau Charlottenhof, the Chinese Tea House and the Friedenskirche.
- Most buildings are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm, but the Neues Palais is open Moday to Wednesday only from10am to 6pm (5pm during the winter months).
- Each building has a different entrance fee, starting with 12 euros (8 in the winter) for Sanssouci alone, but apparently a general entrance ticket can be bought for 19 euros. Walking around the extensive gardens is always free.
Palaces of Sanssouci Park
Why this is a UNESCO Site
Including up to 150 buildings, the sculpted park and palace landscape stretching between Potsdam and Berlin is simply unique in its existence and scale. The whole area not only represents the glory of its time, but also an outstanding example of creativity in architecture and landscaping with various influences from many different parts of the world.
Thoughts and Observations
For me personally Potsdam and especially Sanssouci has always been a great place to visit when in neighboring Berlin. While many weeks could probably be spent trying to explore all the many parks, palaces and other historical architecture, luckily the gardens around Sanssouci offer a condensed version of some highlights. Stretching from the Picture Gallery and the Friedenskirche all the way to the big Neues Palais, this UNESCO inscribed park is simply a great place to wander and get lost, even without an entrance ticket to every single building along the way.
Out of the grand structures in the park, my favorite still remains the New Orangery. Set in a really prominent location on top of several flights of elaborate stairs and overlooking the entire park, this fancy version of a greenhouse is simply a great building to visit. Housing basically just tropical plants during the winter months, it seems quite surprising that the Orangery is a lot bigger and taller than the actual palace of Sanssouci. But this seems almost like a minor detail when realizing how many seemingly strange or out-of-place buildings there are in Potsdam, making this truly an interesting place to visit and spend time.
Out-of-place Buildings in Potsdam
Tips and Recommendations
- If you are on a budget, simply skip all entrance fees and walk through the extensive park of Sanssouci while seeing all buildings from outside.
- For continued walking, visit Neuer Garten where Cecilienhof and the Marble Palace are located and the Pfingstberg for a better view.
- But for a different Potsdam experience visit some of the seemingly out-of-place buildings. Besides the Chinese Tea House, there is the Steam Engine House in shape of a mosque, the tower of Albert Einstein looking like a submarine, the fully functional Dutch Windmill, the Dutch Quarter in Old Potsdam, the Russian Colony Alexandrowka of wood houses, including a pink church and the British style Chateau Cecilienhof where the famous Potsdam Agreement was signed after WW2.
- Go right now!
- Definitely go soon
- Go if you are around
- Stop by if you are bored
- Consider missing it
The many UNESCO palaces, extensive parks and even the out-of-place buildings are definitely all must-see sights when visiting neighboring Berlin. On a sunny day Potsdam makes the perfect place for day trip or two.
The S-Bahn S1 currently makes the trip from Berlin to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof from where a connection can be caught on RE1 to Charlottenhof and Park Sanssouci. Alternatively different regional trains from the bigger stations like Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse and Zoologischer Garten will stop in Potsdam on their way out-of-town.
Have you been to Potsdam and Sanssouci? Did you visit any of the out-of-place buildings?