Theme Week Potsdam – Studio Babelsberg, parks and palaces

Saturday, 23 April 2011 - 01:16 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Architecture, General, Sustainability, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage

Berlin Observatory in Potsdam now hosts Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research © H. Raab

Berlin Observatory in Potsdam now hosts Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research © H. Raab

Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, 24 km (15 miles) southwest of Berlin city center. Potsdam has several claims to national and international notability. In Germany, it had the status Windsor has in England. It was the residence of the Prussian kings, and thus the German Emperors, until 1918. Around the city there are a series of interconnected lakes and unique cultural landmarks, in particular the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, the largest World Heritage Site in Germany. The Potsdam Conference, the major post-World War II conference between the victorious Allies, was held at another palace in the area, the Cecilienhof. Babelsberg, in the south-eastern part of Potsdam, was a major movie production studio before the war and has enjoyed increased success as a major centre of European film production since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Filmstudio Babelsberg is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world. Potsdam developed into a center of science in Germany from the 19th century. Today, there are three public colleges and more than 30 research institutes in the city.

Berlin was the official capital of Prussia and later of the German Empire, but the court remained in Potsdam, where many government officials settled. In 1914, the Emperor Wilhelm II signed the Declaration of War in the Neues Palais. The city lost its status as a second capital in 1918, when Wilhelm II abdicated at the end of World War I. At the start of the Third Reich in 1933 there was a ceremonial handshake between President Paul von Hindenburg and the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler on 21 March 1933 in Potsdam’s Garrison Church in what became known as the “Day of Potsdam”. This symbolised a coalition of the military and Nazism. Potsdam was severely damaged in bombing raids during World War II. The Cecilienhof Palace was the scene of the Potsdam Conference from 17 July, to 2 August 1945, at which the victorious Allied leaders (Harry S. Truman; Winston Churchill and his successor, Clement Attlee; and Joseph Stalin) met to decide the future of Germany and postwar Europe in general. The conference ended with the Potsdam Agreement and the Potsdam Declaration. The government of East Germany tried to remove symbols of Prussian militarism. Many historic buildings, some of them badly damaged in the war, were demolished. When in 1946 the remainder of the Province of Brandenburg west of the Oder-Neiße line was constituted as the state of Brandenburg, Potsdam became its capital. In 1952 the GDR disestablished its federative states and replaced them by smaller new East German administrative districts. Potsdam became the capital of the new Bezirk Potsdam until 1990.

Berlin Observatory in Potsdam now hosts Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research © H. Raab Tea House © Marian Szengel Aerial view of Potsdam © Arne Krueger Belvedere Klausberg © Unify Campus 1 of University of Potsdam at Neues Palais © Unify City Administration © Expdm Dutch Quarter © Creando Einstein Tower © Lestath Film Museum in the former Royal Stables © Florian S. Filmstudio Babelsberg © Unify Glienicker Bridge was used to exchange spies between East and West during Cold War © Lienhard Schulz Hans-Otto Theater © Suse Marble Palais © Olaf Oehlsen Military Orphanage © Unify Nauen Gate © Thorbjoern Old Town Hall © Doris Antony Orangerie Palais at night © Florian Lindner Orangerie Palais © Florian Lindner Park Sanssouci entrance © procsilas Potsdam © Wolfgang Pehlemann Potsdam © Wolfgang Pehlemann Brandenburg Gate © Dieter Brügmann Russian Colony Alexandrowka © Dishayloo Sanssouci Palace with vineyard © Elkawe Sanssouci Palace © Manfred Heyde Sanssouci Palace © Raimond Spekking/cc-by-sa-4.0 St. Nikolai Church © Andreas Fränzel
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Glienicker Bridge was used to exchange spies between East and West during Cold War © Lienhard Schulz
Potsdam, south-west of Berlin, lay just outside West Berlin after the construction of the Berlin Wall. The walling off of West Berlin not only isolated Potsdam from West Berlin, but also doubled commuting times to East Berlin. The Glienicke Bridge across the Havel connected the city to West Berlin and was the scene of some Cold War exchanges of spies. After German reunification, Potsdam became the capital of the newly re-established state of Brandenburg. There are many ideas and efforts to reconstruct the original appearance of the city, most remarkably the Potsdam City Palace and the Garrison Church. Potsdam was historically a centre of European immigration. Its religious tolerance attracted people from France, Russia, the Netherlands and Bohemia. This is still visible in the culture and architecture of the city.

The most popular attraction in Potsdam is Sanssouci Park, 2 km west of the city centre. In 1744 King Frederick the Great ordered the construction of a residence here, where he could live sans souci (“without worries”, in the French spoken at the court). The park hosts a botanical garden (Botanischer Garten Potsdam) and many magnificent buildings:

  • The Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci), a relatively modest palace of the Prussian royal and German imperial family
  • The Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss), former palace for foreign royal guests
  • The New Palace (Neues Palais), built between 1763 and 1769 to celebrate the end of the Seven Years’ War, in which Prussia ousted Austria from its centuries-long role as the dominant power in German affairs. It is a much larger and grander palace than Sanssouci, having over 200 rooms and 400 statues as decoration. It served as a guest house for numerous royal visitors.
  • The Charlottenhof Palace (Schloss Charlottenhof), a Neoclassical palace by Karl Friedrich Schinkel built in 1826
  • The Roman Baths (Römische Bäder), built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Ludwig Persius in 1829-1840. It is a complex of buildings including a tea pavilion, a Renaissance-style villa, and a Roman bathhouse (from which the whole complex takes its name).
  • The Chinese Tea House (Chinesisches Teehaus), an 18th century pavilion built in a Chinese style, the fashion of the time.

To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facepage pages/Twitter accounts. Read more on City of Potsdam, SPSG – Palaces and Gardens in Berlin-Brandenburg and Wikipedia Potsdam. Learn more about the use of photos.




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