Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam

November 22nd, 2014 | General | No Comments »

Sanssouci - Aerial view © Sven Scharr/cc-by-3.0

Sanssouci – Aerial view © Sven Scharr/cc-by-3.0

Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. 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/built 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.

Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story 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.
 

During the 19th century, the palace became a residence of Frederick William IV. He employed the architect Ludwig Persius to restore and enlarge the palace, while Ferdinand von Arnim was charged with improving the grounds and thus the view from the palace. The town of Potsdam, with its palaces, was a favourite place of residence for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918.

After World War II, the palace became a tourist attraction in East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Frederick’s body was returned to the palace and buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created. Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a World Heritage Site in 1990 under the protection of UNESCO; in 1995, the Foundation for Prussian Palaces and Gardens in Berlin-Brandenburg was established to care for Sanssouci and the other former imperial palaces in and around Berlin. These palaces are now visited by more than two million people a year from all over the world.

Read more on spsg.de – Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam Tourism – Palaces and parks at a glance, potsdam-park-sanssouci.de and Wikipeda Sanssouci Palace. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.


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The Eurotunnel

November 19th, 2014 | General | No Comments »

Eurotunnel schema © Arz - Commander Keane

Eurotunnel schema © Arz – Commander Keane

The Channel Tunnel (French: Le tunnel sous la Manche; also referred to as the Chunnel) is a 50.5-kilometre (31.4 mi) rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent, in the United Kingdom, with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais, near Calais in northern France, beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is 75 m (250 ft) deep. At 37.9 kilometres (23.5 mi), the tunnel has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world, although the Seikan Tunnel in Japan is both longer overall at 53.85 kilometres (33.46 mi) and deeper at 240 metres (790 ft) below sea level. The speed limit in the tunnel is 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph).

The tunnel carries high-speed Eurostar passenger trains, the Eurotunnel Shuttle for automobiles and other road vehicles—the largest such transport in the world—and international rail freight trains. The tunnel connects end-to-end with the LGV Nord and High Speed 1 high-speed railway lines.
 

Ideas for a cross-Channel fixed link appeared as early as 1802, but British political and press pressure over compromised national security stalled attempts to construct a tunnel. Albert Mathieu, a French mining engineer, put forward a proposal to tunnel under the English Channel, with illumination from oil lamps, horse-drawn coaches, and an artificial island mid-Channel for changing horses. An early attempt at building a Channel Tunnel was made in the late 19th century, on the English side “in the hope of forcing the hand of the English Government”. The eventual successful project, organised by Eurotunnel, began construction in 1988 and opened in 1994. At £4.650 billion, the project came in 80% over its predicted budget. Since its construction, the tunnel has faced several problems. Fires and cold weather have both disrupted operation of the tunnel.

Read more on Channel Tunnel and Wikipedia Channel Tunnel. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.


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