Like almost every other person in this planet with an extra X chromosome, I grew up having a thing for castles. So, naturally, one of the first places my husband suggested we visit outside Berlin was Potsdam.
We went during my mom and her boyfriend’s (who runs amazing tours in Amsterdam, btw) visit to Berlin so it was sort of a double date. Take note that we’re a family of walkers so this post is going to feature a LOT of walking. In fact, the only ride we took was the S-Bahn going from Berlin to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof then, to the station beside the Sanssouci Park. We originally planned to walk from the Hauptbahnhof but the weather wasn’t cooperating.
When we finally got off the train, it was all walking throughout the day. And I do think that that’s the best way to see this charming city.
The sites re actually close enough to be explored by foot yet far enough to make your FitBit happy enough to give you a high five. Along with that message telling you that you’re over achiever. Yeah, I try to aim for that one. What can I say? I’m competitive.
The Potsdam Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) is in zone “C” so make sure you pay for the right ticket. Don’t be tempted to get the cheaper “AB” ones. I’ve seen people get caught by some inspectors and they had to pay quite the sum.
It was quite a gloomy day when we went and there were some showers here and there throughout the day. Germany is famous for its unpredictable weather so even though it’s summer, I would still suggest packing an umbrella and bringing a light jacket. It can be quite nippy after a drizzle.
From the train station, it’s a seven minute walk to the Neues Palais. We haven’t eaten a full meal yet so we decided to stop by Café and Restaurant Fredersdorf for a bite. The options were quite limited but it was a good meal all the same. The staff were friendly too.
The restaurant also gives you a gorgeous view of the Communs and the Neus Palais. These baroque-style buildings currently house the Universität Potsdam (Potsdam University). It was through this side that we entered Sanssouci Park.
Often referred to as the Prussian Versailles, the grounds were utterly beautiful in the summer. If you’ve been to Versailles in France, you may find Sanssouci to be a little less extravagant. Nevertheless, it’s still has that European grandeur with a bit of German practicality sprinkled here and there – especially in the gardens.
The Neues Palais and the Communs
The park is humungous. Upon entering it though, I kept thinking how much fun it would be to study at the University of Potsdam and have this park as my campus. 😉 During our visit, they were preparing for an outdoor concert. Thus, there were some tents and seats being arranged in front of the baroque-style buildings.
None the less, the buildings left us impressed. Sadly, we didn’t have enough to explore the interiors as we were on a race against the weather. We had to see more of the grounds before it started raining again. So, off we went towards the North.
I don’t know if you’ve picked up a couple of Game of Thrones references I’ve thrown your way in this post. Sorry about that as I’m still not over episodes 6 and 7 that came out this week.
Also, it’s a bit of a build up for the Dragon House Restaurant. Will Dany approve? They statues seem to be mini tributes to baby Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal.
It’s actually a former lodge for King Frederick II’s wine grower. The oriental-inspired architecture, modeled off a book.
Following Maulbeerallee, you’ll find yourself looking up at yet another palace. The Orangerieschloss instantly transports you to Italy with its renaissance-style architecture.
The artistically-gifted Frederick IV had it built in the mid-1800s as an addition to his summer residence. Its gardens are gorgeous and paths leading up to it, lined with lush greenery makes it such a beautiful place to take a stroll.
I skipped taking a photo of it’s main building since there was a lot of scaffolding. Renovations throughout Sanssouci park were in full force during our visit. Will update this with a proper photo after we come back.
A windmill sits on top of one of the hills near Sanssouci Palace. It was originally built in the 1700s but it was destroyed during WWII. The one in Potsdam right now is just a reconstruction of the original that turned based on the direction of the wind.
Finally, we arrived at Prussian King Frederick the Great’s summer home – Schloss Sanssouci. It’s a lot smaller than the Versailles, to which it is often compared to. It’s more of a single-story villa with gorgeous, Rococo style or architecture. I also loved the elevation of it.
Imagine reading a book in one of the benches while overlooking the gardens. Add a bit of beautiful, sunny weather with a bit of a breeze – then, it’s just perfect. 😉
Oddly enough, the name is in French. It literally means ‘free of worries’ which was Frederick the Great’s vision for the place – a hideaway where he can relax.
The Church of Peace
A quaint church with a mausoleum is also within the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the whole of Sanssouci Park. We made sure to stop by and check out the architecture and my favourite bit is the tiered entryway of Heilsbronn Porch.
We then made our way out of the park because there was, once again, threats of torrential rains. We stopped by a restaurant for dinner and a beer to wait it out before making our way back to the Hauptbahnhof on foot.
The rest of the city
A smaller version of Berlin’s Brandenburger Tor can be found in the city’s Luisenplatz. It also goes by the same name and is at the end of Brandenburger Straße, a street lined with beautiful altbaus housing shops and restaurants. The street also leads up to the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Cue Belle singing “little town, it’s a quiiiiiet village…”
To be fair, we were there on a Sunday when all shops were closed so it truly was quiet that day. There were some restaurants that were open though.
From Luisenplatz, it was a bit of a walk to the train station. We had to skip the Dutch Quarter we so wanted to visit since it was getting late. However, we did pass by the Evengelical St. Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church) at the Old Market Square (Alter Markt).
It’s truly a sight to behold. This massive structure which was heavily damaged in WWII, also holds concerts aside from Church services. The Old Market Square is also worth the time as it also has other buildings surrounding it with gorgeous architecture. There’s a marble obelisk, the Museum de Barberini, and the Old City Hall to name a few.
There you have it, our day in Potsdam. Sadly, we missed a couple of must-sees. Like the Chinese House and even the Schloss Cecilienhof due to time and weather constraints. But that’s all the more reason to come back, right? It’s so near Berlin anyways!