Theme Week Potsdam – Cecilienhof Palace

Monday, 13 November 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Berlin, Hotels, Museums, Exhibitions, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  8 minutes

© Gryffindor

© Gryffindor

Cecilienhof Palace is a palace in Potsdam, Brandenburg built from 1914 to 1917 in the layout of an English Tudor manor house. Cecilienhof was the last palace built by the House of Hohenzollern that ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire until the end of World War I. Cecilienhof has been part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. Cecilienhof is located in the northern part of the large New Garden park, close to the shore of the Jungfernsee lake. The park was laid out from 1787 at the behest of King Frederick William II of Prussia, modelled on the Wörlitz Park in Anhalt-Dessau. Frederick William II also had the Marmorpalais (Marble Palace) built within the Neuer Garten, the first Brandenburg palace in the Neoclassical style erected according to plans designed by Carl von Gontard and Carl Gotthard Langhans, which was finished in 1793. Other structures within the park close to Schloss Cecilienhof include an orangery, an artificial grotto (Muschelgrotte), the “Gothic Library”, and the Dairy in the New Garden, also constructed for King Frederick William II. The park was largely redesigned as an English landscape garden according to plans by Peter Joseph Lenné from 1816 onwards, with lines of sight to nearby Pfaueninsel, Glienicke Palace, Babelsberg Palace, and the Church of the Redeemer.

Since the Marmorpalais, which had been the traditional Potsdam residence of the Hohenzollern crown prince, had become inadequate for current tastes, Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the establishment of a fund for constructing a new palace at Potsdam for his oldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm (William) and his wife, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 19 December 1912. After their marriage in 1905, Wilhelm and Cecilie had previously lived at the Marmorpalais for most of the year and at the Berlin Kronprinzenpalais in winter. In 1911, the Crown Prince had been appointed commander of the Prussian 1. Leibhusaren-Regiment and moved to Danzig-Langfuhr. On 13 April 1914 the Imperial Ministry and the Saalecker Werkstätten signed a building contract that envisaged a completion date of 1 October 1915 and a construction cost of 1,498,000 Reichsmark for the new palace. The architect was Paul Schultze-Naumburg, who visited the couple in Danzig to work out the design for the palace. It was based on English Tudor style buildings, arranged around several courtyards featuring half-timbered walls, bricks and 55 different decorative chimney stacks. With the start of World War I in August 1914, construction stopped but was resumed in 1915. Crown Prince Wilhelm was so impressed with Bidston Court in Birkenhead, England that Cecilienhof was inspired by Bidston Court. The palace was designed in such a way as to be inhabitable for most of the year. Its low structure and multiple courts conceal the fact that it boasts a total of 176 rooms. Besides the large Ehrenhof in the centre, which was used only for the arrival and departure of the Crown Prince and his wife, there is a smaller garden court, the Prinzengarten, and three other courts around which the various wings of the building are arranged. The “public” rooms were located in the centre part on the ground floor, around a central great hall, while above on the first floor were the “private” bedroom, dressing rooms and bathrooms. The living area of the great hall also features a massive wooden stairway made of oak. This was a gift from the city of Danzig. The ground floor rooms included an area for the Crown Prince with smoking room, library and breakfast room as well as an area for his wife with music salon, writing room and a room designed like a cabin on an ocean liner. The latter was used by Cecilie as a breakfast room. Like some of the other rooms it was designed by Paul Ludwig Troost, who also designed actual interiors of ocean liners for the Norddeutscher Lloyd shipping line.

© flickr.com - Jean-Pierre Dalbéra/cc-by-2.0 © Gryffindor Inner courtyards © flickr.com - Karen Mardahl/cc-by-sa-2.0 © panoramio.com - dokaspar/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - Hiroki Ogawa/cc-by-3.0 © Stephan Grund
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Inner courtyards © flickr.com - Karen Mardahl/cc-by-sa-2.0
The Potsdam Conference (officially the “Berlin Conference”) took place from 17 July to 2 August 1945. It was the third and longest summit between the heads of government of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, the major forces in the anti-Hitler-coalition that had just won the war after Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 1945. The conference was mainly organized by the Soviets. Although the British prime minister Winston Churchill had refused to hold a summit “anywhere within the current Soviet military zone”, US President Harry Truman and Soviet leader Josef Stalin had agreed in late May 1945 to meet “near Berlin”. As Berlin itself had been too heavily damaged by Allied bombing and street-to-street fighting, Cecilienhof in Potsdam was selected as the location for the conference. The delegations were to be housed in the leafy suburb of Potsdam-Babelsberg, which had suffered only slight damage in the bombing raids and also offered the advantage that the streets to the conference venue were easy to guard. Soviet soldiers repaired the streets connecting Babelsberg to Cecilienhof, built a pontoon bridge to replace the Glienicker Brücke which had been destroyed during the last days of the war, planted trees, bushes and flower beds—including the Soviet red star in the Ehrenhof of the palace. At Cecilienhof, 36 rooms and the great hall were renovated and furnished with furniture from other Potsdam palaces. The furniture of Wilhelm and Cecilie had been removed by the Soviets and stored at the Dairy.

After the conference ended, Soviet troops used the palace as a clubhouse. It was handed over to the state of Brandenburg and in 1952 a memorial for the Conference was set up in the former private chambers of Wilhelm and Cecilie. The government of Eastern Germany also used the palace as a reception venue for state visits. The rest of the complex became a hotel in 1960. Some of the rooms were used by the ruling party (SED) for meetings. However, after 1961, a part of the Neuer Garten was destroyed to build the southwest section of the Berlin Wall (as part of the Grenzsicherungsanlagen) which ran along the shore of Jungfernsee. Beginning in 1985, the VEB Reisebüro (state-owned travel agency) modernised the hotel. Today, parts of Cecilienhof are still used as a museum and as a hotel. In 1990 it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin. The private rooms were opened to the public in 1995 after comprehensive restoration work. Queen Elizabeth II visited Cecilienhof on 3 November 2004. On 30 May 2007, the palace was used for a summit by the G8 foreign ministers. In 2011, Schloss Cecilienhof was awarded the European Heritage Label. The redesigned permanent exhibition on the Potsdam Conference was reopened in April 2012.

Read more on spsg.de – Cecilienhof Palace, berlin.de – Cecilienhof Palace and Wikipedia Cecilienhof Palace (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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