Potsdam

Potsdam Travel Guide

Photo by cocoparisienne on Pixabay // CC0
Photo by cocoparisienne on Pixabay // CC0

Introduction

Located across the river Havel from Berlin, Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg state. In the days of German royals, this city was a major political centre. Because of this, there are scores of palaces, castles, and gardens. Spend at least three to four days here before moving on elsewhere.

Top Attractions

Potsdam is full of amazing palaces and parks. Start by heading straight to Sanssouci Palace. The court of Frederick the Great built this as the ruler’s summer residence. Once complete, it drew comparisons to France’s Versailles, despite its smaller stature.

As you walk through this Rococo gem, take the time to admire its fine touches. Thanks to its historical importance, architecture, and its expansive gardens, this place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over two million people visit this attraction per year – as such, authorities offer timed tickets. Be sure to book yours in advance.

After seeing Sanssouci, make Neues Palais your next stop. The court of Frederick the Great constructed this castle after the end of the Seven Years War. According to experts, this palace is the finest built during the Prussian Baroque Period.

Make time to visit the Grotto Hall. Here, you’ll find statues, paintings, fine crystal chandeliers, and walls inlaid with semi-precious stones. Apart from this, its theatre and the Communs are also worth your time.

Next, make your way over to Schloss Cecilienhof. Built in the English Tudor style, this palace was the last royal residence built in Germany. The members of House Hohenzollern only enjoyed it for a year, as a revolution forced them to flee.

In the aftermath of World War II, this castle hosted the Potsdam Conference. Here, world leaders came to agreements on how to proceed in dealing with Europe and Asia post-war. To make the most of your visit, be sure pick up an audio guide at the reception desk.

Take a break from castle hopping at Museum Barberini. In this institution, art lovers will find impressionist art and pieces from the Old Masters. Among this gallery’s top highlights are legends like Monet, Much, and Rodin.

Other Attractions

The palaces of Potsdam can eat up a lot of time. But, if you have time, check out Sanssouci Park. As the name suggests, this green space used to be the garden for Sanssouci Palace. Over the decades, the king’s gardeners planted flower beds, hedges, and fruit groves.

However, technological roadblocks deferred the addition of fountains until the 19th century. Eventually, though, with the invention of steam power, this became a reality. Plan on spending a couple of hours strolling amidst the gardens, greenhouses, and buildings.

Long before the Soviets controlled Potsdam after WWII, it was home to Alexandrowka. This settlement was a colony of Russians populated by soldiers captured by Napoleon in the early 19th century. Fifty years later, the last of these “settlers” passed away. In doing so, they left behind distinctly Russian buildings in the middle of Germany.

Overall, this park is small, so it won’t take too much of your time. If you can, however, make a stop at their tea room for a steamy cup.

During your time in Potsdam, take a moment to stop by the Glienicke Bridge. The span has a moderately interesting design, but that’s not what people know it for. During the Cold War, this suspension bridge was the link between Western-controlled Berlin and the territory of the GDR.

During this time, this landmark became where the GDR and the West would exchange prisoners. As a result, locals came to know it as the Bridge of Spies.

Finally, spend some time relaxing in the Holländisches Viertel. Translating in English as the Dutch Quarter, this neighbourhood bears witness to King Friedrich Wilhelm I’s love of Dutch culture/architecture.

Today, locals and visitors alike love this area’s cobblestone streets. During the holiday season, this part of town hosts the Potsdam Christmas Market.

What To Eat

During your Potsdam trip, you may get a bit peckish. To keep your hunger at bay, get your hands on some Spreewälder Gurken. These savoury snacks are local pickles that residents claim is a hangover cure. Accordingly, you’ll often find these in Potsdam bars.

When the time comes around for dinner, try some Buletten. These are meat patties formed from ground pork mixed in onions, eggs, and bread. Doused in a creamy sauce and served with potatoes, a dark German beer is the best beverage pairing.

Add a sweet ending to your day by ordering Käsekuchen for dessert. Similar to American cheesecake in consistency and dusted with powdered sugar, it’s an excellent companion to coffee.

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