top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatti Geyer

The Ultimate Guide to ALL there is to see in Potsdam

Updated: Apr 15

In this comprehensive guide, I'll take you on a journey through the enchanting city of Potsdam, renowned for its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking landscapes. Organized by location, we'll explore the grandeur of the four main royal gardens teeming with history and beauty. I’ll also list all the places of interest that are close to these gardens. Then, we'll venture into the charming streets of the old town, where centuries-old buildings and cultural landmarks await. After that, we'll journey into the historic district of Babelsberg, renowned for its film studios and unique atmosphere. Lastly, we'll venture into the outskirts of Potsdam to uncover hidden gems and lesser-known attractions that showcase the city's true essence. So, let's embark on this unforgettable adventure and discover all that Potsdam has to offer! Let's see how many palaces you can count (It should be 19!)...

1. Sanssouci Gardens & Surroundings

Welcome to the sprawling beauty of Sanssouci Gardens, a masterpiece of landscape design and Potsdam's most famous garden. Spanning over 290 hectares, this vast expanse of greenery offers a plethora of sights and experiences waiting to be discovered. From meticulously manicured lawns to tranquil water features, ornate sculptures, and historic structures, Sanssouci Gardens is a haven for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and architecture aficionados alike. Join us as we delve into the wonders of this magnificent garden and uncover its hidden treasures.

1.1. Sanssouci Palace

Sanssouci Palace stands as a testament to the opulence and elegance of Prussian architecture. This magnificent palace was commissioned by King Frederick the Great in the 18th century as a summer retreat. Its graceful rococo design, adorned with ornate decorations and surrounded by lush greenery, exudes an air of regal splendor. Visitors can marvel at the palace's exquisite interiors, including the lavishly decorated chambers and Voltaire's guest room. The iconic Vineyard Terrace offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The grave of Frederick the Great (and his beloved dogs) is to the right of the palace building. Sanssouci Palace is not only a historical marvel but also a cultural treasure, drawing visitors from around the world to experience its timeless beauty and grandeur.

1.2. Picture Gallery

The Picture Gallery, built between 1755 and 1764 under Frederick II of Prussia, is Germany's oldest museum for a ruler. Initially showcasing Frederick's art collection, it evolved to display European masterpieces. Despite wartime relocation setbacks, many artworks returned by 1930. With its yellow facade and dome, the gallery's exterior is striking. Inside, visitors marvel at its richly gilded Baroque-style halls housing works by Caravaggio, Anthony van Dyck, and Rubens' workshop. A testament to cultural preservation, the Picture Gallery continues to captivate visitors with its timeless treasures.

1.3. New Chambers

The New Chambers are a testament to the opulence of Prussian royalty. Commissioned by Frederick II in the mid-18th century, these lavishly adorned chambers served as guest quarters for visiting dignitaries and members of the royal court. They exude grandeur with their exquisite Rococo facades and elaborate interior decorations. Visitors are enchanted by the intricate stucco work, gilded accents, and sumptuous furnishings that transport them to a bygone era of aristocratic splendor.

1.4. Neues Palais

The Neues Palais, or New Palace, stands as an enduring symbol of Prussian grandeur. Commissioned by Frederick II in the 18th century, this architectural gem not only showcases magnificent Baroque and Rococo design but also boasts the adjacent Communs. Originally serving as royal stables and service buildings, the Communs now house Potsdam University, seamlessly blending historic charm with modern utility. The Neues Palais itself is a stunning display of opulence, featuring an impressive facade adorned with statues, columns, and intricate decorations. Its interior is equally breathtaking, with lavish halls, opulent chambers, and magnificent staircases adorned with ornate carvings and frescoes, including the tip of Mt Kilimanjaro's summit, adding to the palace's allure.

1.5. Church of Peace

The Protestant Church of Peace, or Friedenskirche, was commissioned by King Frederick William IV. Completed in 1848, its architecture reflects early Christian influences, notably from the Basilica di San Clemente in Rome. Frederick William IV's vision for the church aimed to foster reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics, embodying peace and unity. The church's serene interior features a flat coffered ceiling adorned with gold stars on a blue base, while the apse showcases a remarkable 13th Century Venetian mosaic depicting Christ, acquired from the church of San Cipriano. The adjacent Kaiser Friedrich Mausoleum, designed by Julius Carl Raschdorff, serves as the final resting place for Emperor Friedrich III and Empress Victoria (daughter of Queen Victoria).

1.6. Chinese Tea House

The Chinese House is a charming garden pavilion commissioned by Frederick the Great in the 18th century. Designed by Johann Gottfried Büring, it blends rococo and Chinese architectural styles. Despite delays caused by the Seven Years' War, it became a venue for social events. Modeled after a French pavilion, it features a trefoil shape, rounded windows, and a copper ceiling adorned with gilded sandstone columns. Its interior boasts stucco marble walls, gold-coated decorations, and vibrant silk wall coverings. Today, it stands as a symbol of the era's fascination with Oriental aesthetics.

1.7. Orangerie Palace

The Orangerie Palace is a splendid testament to Prussian architectural prowess. Commissioned by King Frederick William IV in the mid-19th century, this magnificent structure served as a winter garden and a venue for lavish court festivities. Designed by Friedrich August Stüler, the palace boasts a neoclassical façade adorned with grand columns and intricate detailing, reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. Inside, visitors are greeted by a stunning hall adorned with towering palm trees and exotic plants, creating an atmosphere of opulence and luxury.

1.8. Charlottenhof Palace

Charlottenhof Palace is a captivating blend of classical architecture and picturesque gardens. Commissioned by Crown Prince Frederick William IV of Prussia in the early 19th century, this elegant palace served as a private retreat for the royal family. Designed by renowned architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Charlottenhof Palace exemplifies the Neoclassical style, with its graceful columns, symmetrical layout, and harmonious proportions. Surrounding the palace are meticulously landscaped gardens, featuring ornamental ponds, lush lawns, and meandering pathways, creating a tranquil oasis for leisurely strolls and contemplation. Alexander von Humboldt briefly lived here, too.

1.9. Roman Baths

The Roman Baths are a fascinating relic of classical architecture and royal leisure. Commissioned by King Frederick William IV in the mid-19th century, these baths were inspired by ancient Roman design and served as a retreat for the Prussian monarch. Designed by architect Ludwig Persius, the baths feature a grand colonnaded façade, intricate mosaics, and opulent marble interiors, evoking the luxury of ancient Roman spas.

1.10. Historic Windmill

The Historic Mill of Sanssouci is steeped in legend and history, closely associated with Frederick the Great and his summer palace. Constructed in 1737 under Frederick William I of Prussia, the mill underwent reconstruction in 1787-1791, funded by Frederick William II. This picturesque landmark was restored in the 1990s after being destroyed in World War II. Its legend, immortalized in various publications and performances, tells of a miller's clever negotiations with Frederick the Great, emphasizing the king's sense of justice.

1.11. Belvedere

The Belvedere auf dem Klausberg, erected in 1770–72, showcases Georg Christian Unger's architectural prowess. Inspired by Francesco Bianchini's reconstruction of the Imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill in ancient Rome, the Belvedere boasts a round floor plan with ionic and corinthian columns adorning its exterior. The dome is adorned with sandstone statues of divinities, while the interior features marble walls and floors, ornate plaster decorations, and scenic ceiling paintings. Despite suffering damage in 1945, the upper room has been restored to its former glory, offering visitors a glimpse into its majestic past.

1.12. Roman Ruins

The Ruinenberg, north of Sanssouci Park, holds historical significance dating back to the reign of Frederick the Great. In 1748, Frederick had a massive water tank constructed atop the hill to supply water features in Sanssouci Park, adorned with artificial ruins. Initially intended to support fountain projects, the water supply system faced technical challenges and was abandoned by 1780. The Ruinenberg's landscape features include a variety of architectural elements, including a Monopteros, ionic columns, a small pyramid, and a theater wall, contributing to its unique charm and historical appeal.

1.13. Dragon House

The Dragon House (Drachenhaus) in Potsdam, Germany, built between 1770 and 1772, reflects King Frederick the Great's fascination with Chinoiserie architecture. Designed by Carl von Gontard, it features sixteen dragons on its roofs and was inspired by Frederick's admiration for Far Eastern design. Initially intended as living quarters for vineyard workers, it fell into disrepair before being restored in 1787. Since then, it has housed the overseer of the nearby Belvedere on the Klausberg. Today, it serves as a restaurant, operating since 1934.

1.14. Sanssouci Garden

Sanssouci Park, built during Frederick the Great's reign, features a blend of Baroque elements and practicality, including a flower, fruit, and vegetable garden. The park, alongside Sanssouci Palace and neighboring structures, gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1990. It boasts a 2.5 km main avenue lined with fountains and sculptures, incorporating Baroque water features like the Neptune Grotto. Frederick's ambitious fountain system initially failed but succeeded with steam power in the 19th century. Enter by the Obelisk entrance (featuring an Egyptian style obelisk, as Frederick the Great ws a freemason), adorned with statues of Flora and Pomona, symbolizing the blend of ornamental and kitchen garden styles.

1.15. The Temples

The Temple of Friendship was commissioned by King Frederick II of Prussia in memory of his sister, Princess Wilhelmine, who passed away in 1758. Designed by architect Carl von Gontard, the temple resembles a classical structure and features a statue of Wilhelmine. Its design and placement complement the nearby Temple of Antiquities. Similarly, the Antique Temple was built by Frederick the Great to house his collection of classical art and artifacts. Designed by Carl von Gontard, it served as a museum during Frederick's reign but later became a mausoleum for members of the House of Hohenzollern. The building's architecture includes a round temple surrounded by Tuscan columns, with a cupola allowing light into the central chamber.

1.16. The Villas

In Park Sanssouci, three notable villas stand as testaments to the area's rich history: the Gartendirektionsgebäude, erected in 1752 under the patronage of Prussian King Frederick II and now serving as office space for the Foundation of Prussian Palaces and Gardens; the Villa Illaire, initially a modest dwelling for court gardener Voss, later expanded into a villa in the 19th century; and the Villa Liegnitz, constructed in 1841 for Fürstin von Liegnitz and subsequently repurposed as an academic institute, now slated for renovation by the same foundation. Each villa carries a unique narrative, reflecting the evolution of Sanssouci's landscape and its inhabitants over the centuries.

Urheber: Z thomas

1.17. Vineyard & Triumphal Arch

The Winzerberg, opposite Sanssouci Park, consists of terraces with vineyard walls, a prominent Triumphal Arch entrance, and the Winzerhaus villa at the hill's peak. The Winzerberg was historically used for vine and fruit cultivation, protected by its terraced walls. The villa, built in 1849, underwent restoration efforts in recent years. Additionally, the Triumphal Arch, constructed in the mid-19th century under King Friedrich Wilhelm IV's orders, features intricate relief sculptures and allegorical figures representing advancements in transportation and communication technologies.

(C) Suse

1.18. The Fake Mosque

The Steam Engine House for Sanssouci, also known as the "Pumping House" or "Mosque," stands on the Neustädter Havelbucht in Potsdam, Germany. Constructed between 1841 and 1843 under King Friedrich Wilhelm IV's direction, it operated the Great Fountain in front of Sanssouci Palace. Architecturally resembling a Turkish mosque, it features a minaret-shaped chimney. Today, it serves as a museum and technical monument, showcasing both technological innovation and architectural splendor in Potsdam.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia

1.19. Pheasantry

The Fasanerie, an Italian-style building nestled within Charlottenhof Park, once housed the royal pheasant breeding grounds. Initially located in Berlin's Tiergarten, the pheasantry moved to Potsdam in the 1840s as the Berlin Zoo began development. Designed by Peter Joseph Lenné, the Fasanerie's grounds included grain fields, pastures, and ponds for the pheasants. Construction on the Italian-style building, featuring a tower and loggia, began in 1841 under Ludwig Persius's direction.

(C) Jens Cederskjold

1.20. Kaiser Train Station

The Kaiserbahnhof Potsdam now serves as the German railway academy and for official functions. Built in 1909 in the English Cottage style, it consists of a reception building and a station hall, along with the basement. The station welcomed notable guests like Theodore Roosevelt and Tsar Nicholas II. It also played a role in history as it witnessed significant events, including the departure of Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria into Dutch exile on November 27, 1918, following her husband. Three years later, her coffin returned to this station.

1.21. Lindstedt Palace

Schloss Lindstedt was built from 1858 to 1861. Initially intended as a retirement residence for King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, it features late-classical architecture with Italian influences. Over the years, it served various purposes, from quarantine station to academic institution. Managed by the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation since 1996, it now hosts events and can be rented for functions.

1.22. Bornstedt Crown Estate

Krongut Bornstedt, originally a property of the Prussian royal family, gained significance as the residence of Crown Princess Victoria in the 19th century. Victoria, alongside her husband Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, made it their home in 1867. Under her influence, the estate flourished as a center for artistic endeavors, attracting writers, painters, and literary circles. Today, after extensive restoration, it stands as a testament to Victoria's cultural legacy, offering dining, a brewery, and spaces for events and exhibitions.

1.23. Bornstedt Church & Cemetery

The Bornstedt Cemetery, adjacent to the Krongut Bornstedt and the Orangerie Palace, serves as the final resting place for both locals and notable figures. Dating back to 1599, it has been a preferred burial ground since the 18th century, attracting both the bourgeoisie and the nobility. Among the distinguished individuals interred here are landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné and architects Friedrich Ludwig Persius and Reinhold Persius. The Bornstedt Church, situated adjacent to the cemetery, boasts an Italian architectural style and stands as a testament to the involvement of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

2. The New Garden, Pfingstberg & Surroundings

The New Garden and Pfingstberg are two historic sites known for their scenic beauty and architectural marvels. The New Garden features the elegant Marble Palace overlooking Heiliger See, alongside attractions like the Dairy Farm and Gothic Library. Pfingstberg offers panoramic views from the Belvedere, a stunning Renaissance-style structure built by King Frederick William IV. Both sites are cherished for their rich history and captivating landscapes.

2.1. Marble Palace

The Marble Palace is a magnificent neoclassical palace built by King Frederick William II in the late 18th century. It is renowned for its stunning marble facade and elegant architecture, surrounded by picturesque gardens and overlooking the tranquil waters of Heiliger See. Right next to it, the castle kitchen, resembling a Roman temple with Corinthian columns, was built as a sunken temple ruin to keep kitchens away from living quarters for safety reasons.

2.2. Cecilienhof Palace

Cecilienhof Palace is a historic palace famous for hosting the Potsdam Conference in 1945, where the leaders of the Allied powers - Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Harry S. Truman - met to discuss post-World War II Europe and the reorganization of Germany. Built between 1914 and 1917, Cecilienhof Palace is renowned for its picturesque English Tudor-style architecture and beautiful gardens. Today, it serves as a museum, offering visitors insights into the significant events that took place during the Potsdam Conference and the palace's rich history.

2.3. Meierei

The Dairy in the New Garden, located on the shore of the Jungfernsee lake, was constructed between 1790 and 1792 by Carl Gotthard Langhans and Andreas Ludwig Krüger. Originally built to supply the royal court with dairy products during the landscape garden's development and the construction of the Marble Palace under Frederick William II, it underwent expansions in 1843/1844 and 1857. These expansions added a second storey, a tower, and a pump house for watering the New Garden, giving the building a Norman character. In 1928, it was converted into a restaurant, which became a popular destination until it was occupied by the Red Army in 1945 and partially destroyed by fire. After renovation and restoration in 1991, it reopened in 2003 as a brewery and restaurant.

2.4. The Pyramid

The Pyramid in Potsdam's New Garden, built for King Friedrich Wilhelm II, is an early example of Egyptomania-inspired architecture. Adorned with hieroglyphic decorations, it originally had multiple entrances but now only one remains functional. Inside, a domed room stored ice during winter, with a cellar beneath descending up to five meters deep.

2.5. Orangerie

The Orangery, designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans and built from 1791 to 1793, served various purposes throughout its history. Originally constructed for King Friedrich Wilhelm II, its architecture was inspired by Parisian designs and features an elaborate Egyptian portal on its eastern side. The building housed orange trees of the Hohenzollerns, doubling as a theater and opera house until World War II. However, post-war conditions led to its decline, with Soviet occupation further impacting its use. Restoration efforts since 1994 have revived its function as an orangery, equipped with original heating systems for plant preservation.

2.6. The Gothic Library

The Gothic Library, a two-story sandstone tower pavilion, resembles a Gothic chapel with a neogothic interior featuring delicate ribbed vaults. Originally serving as a royal library and waterfront belvedere, its contents included classical French and German literature. Despite suffering damage during World War II, extensive restoration efforts in the 1990s preserved and reconstructed the library, making it accessible to visitors once again.

2.7. The Dutch Houses

The Dutch Etablissement, built from 1789 to 1791, stands as a historic ensemble commissioned by Frederick William II. It served as living quarters for servants. The complex originally included a porter's lodge with four gate pavilions, four service houses along the main avenue for carriage and court personnel, two horse stables, a carriage house, and a residence for noble attendants or high-ranking guests. Adorned with brickwork featuring bell, volute, and staircase gables, the quarter remains a testament to 18th-century architectural style.

2.8. The Holy Lake and the Garden itself

The New Garden, established in 1787 by Friedrich Wilhelm II, spans 102.5 hectares along Potsdam's northern edge, offering a departure from the formal baroque style. Amidst its scenic beauty lie architectural treasures like the Muschelgrotte (Shell Grotto), crafted between 1791 and 1794, and the Borkenküche (Bark Kitchen), reconstructed between 2007 and 2012. The Eremitage, originally built in 1796 and restored in 2007, serves as a charming pavilion for tea gatherings. These historic structures, nestled within the park's natural landscape, epitomize Potsdam's rich cultural heritage. The Heiliger See (Holy Lake) is in the center of the New Garden and is a popular place for swimming in the summer months.

2.9. Schindelhaus

The Shingle House, once used as accommodation for servants of the royal court, was built around 1796 with a beautiful shingled roof. Situated directly opposite the forbidden Russian "KGB military city" after 1945, it stood vacant and gradually deteriorated. From 1990 to 1993, comprehensive restoration and renewal of the roof, basement, and ground floor began. From 1994 to 1996, the house underwent complete reconstruction, including the installation of a slate roof and the repair of four round windows in the dormers. Today, the building is once again used as a residential house.

2.10. Belvedere

The Belvedere on the Pfingstberg is a historical structure located on the Pfingstberg hill. Built between 1847 and 1863, it was designed by architect Ludwig Persius in the Italian Renaissance style. The Belvedere offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including the city of Potsdam and the nearby lakes. It served as a picturesque lookout point and gathering place for the Prussian nobility during the 19th century.

2.11. Pomona Temple

The Pomonatempel, located on Pfingstberg, is a historic pavilion designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel around 1800. Initially serving as a tea pavilion in the vineyard of Carl Ludwig von Oesfeld, it later became property of Friedrich Wilhelm III. Architecturally, it resembles a Greek temple with a portico supported by Ionic columns. The interior features a fireplace and light blue decor by artist Elisabeth Sonneck.

2.12. Three Villas

The trio of villas, comprising Villa Henckel, Lepsiushaus, and Villa Quandt, forms a distinguished ensemble on Pfingstberg in Potsdam, each with its own unique history and significance. Villa Henckel, a late-classicist tower villa, was built between 1868 and 1870 for Berlin banker Hermann Henckel. Surrounded by an extensive park, it underwent renovations in the early 2000s and is now owned by media manager Mathias Döpfner. The Lepsiushaus, formerly the residence of theologian Johannes Lepsius, now serves as a research and meeting center. Erected in the late 18th to early 19th century, it houses an archive dedicated to Lepsius's work on the Armenian genocide, human rights, and humanitarian efforts.

As for Villa Quandt, its origins trace back to around 1800, though precise details are unclear. Acquired by Ulrike Augusta von Quandt in 1833, it later became a residence for the Hohenzollern family until the mid-20th century. After a period of vacancy, it was restored and now houses the Theodor Fontane Archive and the Brandenburg Literature Office.

2.13. Jewish Cemetery

The Jewish Cemetery on the Pfingstberg, established in 1743, stands as a poignant memorial to the Jewish community's lifecycle in the former Prussian city. Initially named Eichberg and later renamed Judenberg, it was a gift from Frederick II to the local Jewish residents. Situated far from the city and prone to flooding, it replaced the need to transport deceased members of the community to Berlin for burial. The cemetery, expanded over time to cover 9,335 square meters, features numerous gravestones dating back to the 18th century, with the oldest from its founding year. Enclosed by a fence and later a wall, it was subject to early antisemitic acts, with documented instances of vandalism as early as 1801.

Despite enduring various desecrations, including Nazi plundering during World War II and neglect during the GDR era, the cemetery has persisted as a testament to resilience. Today, it is a protected monument and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2.14. The Green, Brown and Red Houses

The Green House forms part of a trio alongside the Brown and Red Houses. Constructed as part of Frederick William II's vision for a park with an English landscape layout, contrasting with Frederick the Great's Sanssouci, it embodies the architectural essence of the English garden style. This style prioritized architectural features over natural elements, allowing landscaping to grow freely without meticulous pruning. Among the buildings designed to enhance this style, the Green House remains one of the few in its original state.

2.15. Palais Lichtenau

The Palais Lichtenau is a neoclassical building, built in 1796-1797. Its design and well-preserved interior make it a significant example of early neoclassical architecture. The architect is disputed between Michael Philipp Boumann and Carl Gotthard Langhans. Despite its name, it was likely not built for or inhabited by Countess Wilhelmine von Lichtenau (the mistress of Frederick Wilhelm II). The palace has been used for various purposes over the years and is currently home to a dermatology clinic.

2.16. Alexandrowka Russian Colony

The Russian colony of Alexandrowka, established in 1826-1827 by King Frederick William III of Prussia, commemorates the close relations between the Hohenzollern and Romanov families. Named after Tsar Alexander I, the colony was home to 12 Russian soldiers who remained in Potsdam after the Napoleonic Wars, and who had formed a soldier choir. The settlement includes twelve homesteads with detached gabled houses and a warden's residence. The Alexandrovka Museum, located in House No. 2, offers insights into the colony's history and architectural design. There's also a Russian restaurant.

© Alexander Savin, WikiCommons

2.17. Russian Orthodox Church

The Alexander Newski Memorial Church was built between 1826 and 1829 at the behest of King Friedrich Wilhelm III was intended to serve the soldiers of the Alexandrowka colony. Designed in the traditional altrussian style by St. Petersburg court architect Wassili Petrowitsch Stassow, with additional elements by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the church is a blend of architectural influences. Today, it stands as the oldest Russian Orthodox church in Western Europe, exemplifying both the early Russian historicism and the strong cultural connections between Prussia and Russia.

2.18. Villa Gericke

Villa Gericke, nestled in the Nauener Vorstadt district of Potsdam along Puschkinallee 17, commands attention at the foot of Pfingstberg alongside the Belvedere. This historic residence, along with its gardener's and coachman's houses, and sprawling 16,500 square meter garden with horse paddock, was constructed in 1892/93 by architect F. Gericke. Interestingly, it is a recreation of an earlier villa that once stood in Berlin's Tiergarten at Siegmunds Hof 22, commissioned by renowned architect Hermann Ende for himself. Unfortunately, due to the proximity of a newly constructed S-Bahn line, Ende's villa was razed in 1893. While speculation suggests elements of Ende's villa may have been incorporated into Villa Gericke, concrete evidence remains elusive.

2.19. Villa Mendelssohn

Villa Mendelssohn, nestled in Potsdam's Nauener Vorstadt district at Bertinistraße 3 to 5, holds a rich history within its walls. Originally constructed around 1800, the villa underwent significant transformation in 1906 under architect Ludwig, with Paul Schultze-Naumburg, known for his work on Schloss Cecilienhof. Otto von Mendelssohn Bartholdy acquired the expansive 33,000 square meter estate in 1900, overseeing its thorough renovation and expansion in 1907. However, tragedy struck during World War II when the Mendelssohn family, targeted for their Jewish faith, were forcibly dispossessed by the Nazis in 1942. It is a private residence today.

2.20. Villa Kellermann

Villa Kellermann, nestled by the tranquil Heiliger See in Potsdam's Berliner Vorstadt, boasts a storied past. Constructed in 1914 for Friedrich Wilhelm von Hardt, royal Prussian ceremonial master, it featured innovative amenities like a food elevator and a four-level entry elevator. Post-war, it served as a vital meeting point for intellectuals and artists, witnessing the birth of environmental activism in Potsdam. Transitioning through ownerships, it underwent phases as a restaurant, a casino, and finally, a luxury residence. In 2019, under the ownership of the Jauch family, it regained its culinary splendor with a fancy restaurant.

2.21. Norwegian Harbour

Matrosenstation Kongsnæs emerged in 1895 as a docking haven for the watercraft of Prussian royalty, featuring a striking Norwegian Dragon-style architecture. Over the years, it evolved from a royal pleasure spot to a naval base and later to a yacht club, before falling into disrepair. Today, after meticulous restoration, Kongsnæs stands as a historical gem, showcasing its restored reception pavilion and now hosting a charming harborside restaurant.

2.22. Villa Schöningen

Villa Schöningen, an architectural gem located in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam, was built in 1826 as a simple residence for shipbuilder Martin Friedrich Nüssoll. Under King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, the property was expanded and transformed into an Italian-style villa with a tower and loggia. Over the years, the villa changed hands several times, including ownership by Jewish banker Hermann Wallich, whose family customized the estate to suit their needs. It ended up standing right next to the Berlin Wall and the Bridge of Spies. Since then, it has undergone various transformations and is now a historic landmark, housing permanent and rotating exhibitions that showcase its rich history and the stories of its past residents.

2.23. KGB Prison

The Leistikowstraße Prison in Potsdam, also known as the KGB Prison Potsdam, was an investigative detention facility operated by the Military Counterintelligence Service of the Soviet occupying forces in the SBZ (Soviet Occupation Zone) and later in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It housed individuals of various nationalities, primarily Soviets, who were often held without legal representation, subjected to interrogation, and sometimes mistreated. The prison operated until 1991 under the KGB. Now, it functions as the Leistikowstraße Memorial and Meeting Place, offering exhibitions and tours detailing its history.

2.24. Kaiserin Ausgusta Stift

The Kaiserin Augusta Foundation, nestled in Potsdam's Nauener Vorstadt near the New Garden, boasts a castle-like complex within expansive parklands. Established in 1871 to shelter war orphans, it moved from Berlin-Charlottenburg to Potsdam in 1899 due to space constraints. Architect A. Kickton designed the neogothic complex (1900-1902), featuring living quarters, a dining hall, gymnasium, hospital, and chapel. Following WWII, the Soviet KGB converted the site into its European headquarters, including a military court and prison. Vacated by the KGB in 1994, the building underwent extensive restoration and conversion into 45 residential units.

2.25. The Forbidden City

"Military Town No. 7" served as the Soviet hub for military counterintelligence in Germany, alongside the KGB headquarters in Berlin-Karlshorst. Established after WWII, it expanded rapidly, confiscating homes and erecting a complex infrastructure including offices, barracks, and recreational facilities. The central administration oversaw intelligence operations, while a nearby prison housed detainees and conducted investigations. The compound operated autonomously, fortified against public access, until the withdrawal of Russian troops in 1994.

2.26. East German Watch Tower

The watchtower at Jungfernsee, erected in 1967, stands as the last remaining border tower of the Berlin Wall in Potsdam. Together with the adjacent diesel hall, it is part of a memorial path commemorating the Berlin Wall. Information boards can be found all along the border at Jungfernsee lake.

2.27. Villa Jacobs

The Villa Jacobs, also known as Villa Alexander, stands on the shores of the Jungfernsee in the Nauener Vorstadt district of Potsdam, at Bertinistraße 9. Constructed in 1842 in the style of an Italian tower villa, the Jacobs-Villa was named after Ludwig Jacobs, owner of the Jacobs Sugar Factory. In 1886, the villa was leased to Prince Alexander of Prussia, earning it the name "Villa Alexander." Later, in 1896, Emperor Wilhelm II purchased the property. Following World War II, the building housed a kindergarten for the Soviet Army. However, due to its location in the border area, it fell into disuse after the construction of the Berlin Wall and eventually deteriorated. The villa now serves as a residence and café, enjoying protected status as a historical landmark.

3. Babelsberg Park

Babelsberg Park is a picturesque landscape blending natural beauty with architectural marvels. Established in the 19th century by Prussian Prince Wilhelm, it features lush gardens, serene lakes, and iconic structures like Babelsberg Palace and Flatow Tower. This historic park attracts visitors with its harmonious fusion of nature and culture, offering a tranquil escape and a glimpse into Prussian royal heritage.

3.1. Babelsberg Palace

Babelsberg Palace is a striking example of English Gothic revival architecture. Serving as the summer retreat for Prince William and Augusta, later Emperor William I and Queen of Prussia, the palace was designed between 1833 and 1849 by architects including Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Its distinctive English style, characterized by pointed arches, ornate detailing, and picturesque surroundings, reflects the Queen's fondness of liberal British politics and culture.

© Raimond Spekking & Superbass / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

3.2. Little Palace

The Kleines Schloss, originally a simple garden house near the Havel riverbank, was redesigned by Ludwig Persius between 1833 and 1834. Another transformation in the style of English Tudor Gothic occurred in 1841/1842 under Persius' direction. Initially used as a residence for the oldest son of the princely couple, Friedrich Wilhelm, later Emperor Friedrich III, it housed ladies-in-waiting and guests after his marriage to Victoria. Since 1950, with a brief interruption after the construction of border facilities in 1961, the Kleines Schloss has been used for gastronomic purposes up to the present day.

3.3. Flatow Tower

The Flatow Tower was built between 1853 and 1856 on the site of a Dutch windmill that burned down in 1848. Designed by architect Strack and overseen by Moritz Gottgetreu, this 46-meter-high inhabitable tower got its name from the Flatow estate in West Prussia. The neo-Gothic tower, connected to a castle-like structure, once featured a drawbridge over a star-shaped moat. While cannons and statues once adorned it, vandalism and looting post-1945 led to the loss of furniture and decor.

3.4. Steam Engine House

The Steam Engine House, built between 1843 and 1845, marked the advent of 19th-century technology in Babelsberg Park. Designed by Ludwig Persius, its mix of simple forms and embellishments gave it a distinctive "Norman" style. Housing machinery below and a residence above, it solved water supply issues, enhancing landscaping efforts. Because of its location during Germany's division, it fell into disrepair over time.

3.5. Medieval Courthouse

Further south, on the Lennéhöhe, stands the former Berliner Gerichtslaube. Rebuilt in 1871 by Heinrich Strack using original parts from the 13th-century Gerichtslaube of central Berlin, it replaced the medieval courthouse demolished for the construction of the Berlin City Hall. The cubic red-brick building houses a tea room upstairs behind Gothic windows, while the ground floor's open hall features a central pillar symbolizing the tree under which public court sessions were held. Stone reliefs around the pillar depict pigs for gluttony, an eagle for greed, a monkey for avarice, and sirens for hatred and anger. A bird body with a human head on a corner pillar serves as a medieval caricature, known as "Kaak," representing mockery and shame.

3.6. Matrosenhaus (Sailor House)

The Matrosenhaus, situated between the Havel riverbank and the Flatow Tower, was designed by Johann Heinrich Strack in the style of German Gothic architecture and inaugurated in 1842. It served as the residence for the sailor tasked with managing the gondolas and sailboats. The stepped gables were added after the renovation of the original building in 1868, modeled after the medieval town hall in Stendal.

3.7. The Garden

Babelsberg Park covers 114 hectares and borders the Tiefen See lake on the River Havel. The park's development began in 1833. The park boasts various architectural structures, including a steam-powered pump house, a gardener's house, a kitchen building, and gatehouses. Notable features include military-related sculptures and monuments, such as the Erzengel Michael statue and the Siegessäule commemorating the Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.

3.8. Havelhaus

Havelhaus, located in Babelsberg Park near Am Babelsberger Park Street, dates back to 1843 when it was built as Liebische Meierei. Originally the residence of the ferryman operating between Nowawes and Potsdam, it later housed park guards' apartments after Prince Wilhelm I's purchase. Destroyed by fire in 1883, it was rebuilt according to Reinhold Persius's design. Now vacant since 2016, its fate remains uncertain in the serene surroundings of Babelsberg Park.

4. Park Klein-Glienicke

Park Klein-Glienicke, nestled within the Potsdam cultural landscape, is a historic park renowned for its blend of English and Italian garden styles. Established in the 19th century, it offers manicured lawns, winding pathways, and picturesque ponds. Frequented by aristocrats and artists, Park Klein-Glienicke remains a tranquil retreat for visitors today.

4.1. Glienicke Palace

Glienicke Palace, or Schloss Glienicke, is a historic Neoclassical palace located on the Berlin-Wannsee peninsula in Germany. Designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the 1820s for Prince Carl of Prussia, it is renowned for its architectural elegance and picturesque setting. Originally a cottage, it was transformed into a summer residence adorned with antique objets d'art collected by Prince Carl during his travels.

Noteworthy features of the palace include two golden lion statues adorning the south frontage, reminiscent of the "Medici lions" from the Villa Medici in Rome, also designed by Schinkel.

4.2. Hunting Palace Glienicke

Jagdschloss Glienicke, a hunting lodge, is steeped in history dating back to the late 17th century. Initially a small lodge constructed under Frederick William of Brandenburg, it underwent various expansions and renovations over the centuries. Notably, it was rebuilt in a Baroque style under King Frederick III and later renovated in Neo-baroque style by Prince Charles of Prussia. In the 20th century, it served various purposes, including housing a Soviet army cadet school and a youth hostel.

4.3. Casino

The Casino, located north of the Rotunda on the shores of Jungfernsee in Glienicke, was built in 1824 and is a testament to the early collaboration between architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Prince Charles of Prussia. This two-story building, designed by Schinkel, served as a delightful retreat for tea enthusiasts, offering a picturesque terrace overlooking the lake. The name "Casino" originates from both its previous incarnation as a one-story billiards house, redesigned by Schinkel, and its architectural resemblance to country houses found along the Gulf of Naples.

4.4. The Bridge of Spies

The Glienicke Bridge, famously known as the "Bridge of Spies," holds a significant place in Cold War history. Spanning the Havel River and connecting the Berlin districts of Wannsee and Potsdam, this bridge was a crucial link between East and West Germany during the Cold War era. It gained notoriety for the exchange of captured spies between the United States and the Soviet Union. The most famous exchange took place in 1962 when American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was swapped for Soviet KGB Colonel Rudolf Abel. This historic event highlighted the tension and intrigue of the Cold War period and solidified the Glienicke Bridge's place in the annals of espionage history. Today, the bridge serves as a poignant reminder of the division and reconciliation that marked this tumultuous era.

4.5. Cloister Courtyard

In 1850, the Cloister Courtyard was built between the Casino and the greenhouses, serving as a museum for Prince Charles's medieval art and Byzantine sculpture collections. It was adorned with historic parts from Venice and is seen as a political statement post-1848 revolution, honoring the Byzantine Empire and subtly acknowledging Russia.

4.6. Gardener's and Machine House

The Hofgärtner- und Maschinenhaus, constructed by Ludwig Persius from 1836 to 1838, served as an early steam engine facility for operating water features in Potsdam's gardens, notably for the Peacock Island. The building comprises a water tower and a machinery house, with the steam engine pumping water into the tower reservoir and the park. The tower, featuring a unique design with small arched windows and crescent-shaped overflow openings, housed the reservoir on the upper floor and a tea and belvedere room below. Today, the tower serves as a viewpoint, while the machinery house accommodates service apartments and a lapidarium since the 1960s.

4.7. The Glienicke Garden

Park Glienicke, also known as Park Klein-Glienicke or Glienicker Park, is an English landscape garden. Initially designed by Prussian gardener Peter Joseph Lenné in 1816, the park underwent significant development under Prince Charles of Prussia, earning him the moniker "Sir Charles Glienicke." The park features diverse gardening styles and architectural elements, including the Hardenberg basket designed by English architect John Adey Repton. Over the years, the park's ownership and management have changed, with the City of Berlin acquiring most of it in the 1930s. Despite periods of neglect, the park has been restored and recognized as a historic monument. It boasts a blend of natural landscapes and artificial features, with flower gardens, pavilions, and fountains scattered throughout its grounds.

4.8. Klein Glienicke

Klein Glienicke, a neighborhood in Potsdam, gained notoriety during the Berlin Wall era as an exclave of East Germany surrounded by West Berlin. Dubbed the "Blinddarm der DDR" (the appendix of the GDR), it was tightly controlled, with limited access. Despite this, it witnessed numerous daring escape attempts, including through tunnels. Post-reunification, the area saw demographic shifts and property reclaimations. Today, Klein Glienicke remains a small community undergoing redevelopment, with some historic sites repurposed for modern use.

4.9. Swiss Houses

Between 1863 and 1887, Carl von Preußen commissioned the construction of ten Swiss-style houses in Klein Glienicke, following contemporary trends and designed by architect Ferdinand von Arnim. An additional two houses were built in 1873 and 1874. Six houses were demolished in 1961 for East Germany's border security. All remaining Swiss-style houses are now protected heritage sites.

4.10. Loggia Alexandra

Perched atop the Böttcherberg in Berlin-Wannsee, overlooking Klein Glienicke village, the Loggia Alexandra is a belvedere. Designed in Florentine early Renaissance style, it offers views of Schloss Babelsberg and Potsdam's center. Constructed in 1869/1870 by Prince Carl of Prussia in memory of his sister, Charlotte von Preußen, it features Pompeian fresco-style wall paintings and decorative wooden paneling. The name honors Charlotte, who became "Alexandra Feodorovna" upon marrying Tsar Nicholas I.

4.11. Peacock Island

Peacock Island, situated in the Havel River, is accessible only by ferry. Its centerpiece, the Rococo-style Peacock Island Palace, was built in the 18th century as a summer retreat for King Frederick William II and his mistress. The island's menagerie, established in the late 18th century, housed exotic animals, including birds, which delighted visitors. In 1830, King Frederick William III donated several animals from the Peacock Island menagerie to the newly established Berlin Zoo. Nature lovers will appreciate the island's lush forests, meadows, and shoreline paths, ideal for leisurely walks and picnics. The island is also home to a variety of wildlife, including peacocks, which roam freely. Other notable sights include the Dairy Cottage, an enchanting structure built to resemble a Swiss chalet, and the Ruined Abbey, a picturesque ruin surrounded by trees.

4.12. Moorlake

Built in 1840 by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV for his Bavarian wife, it served as a retreat for the royal family and their hunting parties. It was built in a Bavarian style. Since 1896, it has operated as a tavern, offering Berlin specialties and seasonal dishes.

4.13. Nikolskoe

Nikolskoe is an ensemble of four historically significant buildings: the Blockhaus, the St. Peter and Paul Church, the former royal Freischule (free school), and the cemetery of Pfaueninsel. Originally a royal retreat, Nikolskoe became a popular destination for Berliners after the royal family's infrequent visits ceased. The Blockhaus, built in 1819-1820, served as a Russian-style retreat and later transformed into a successful excursion restaurant. The St. Peter and Paul Church, constructed in 1834-1837, became a favored chapel for the prince and princess of Klein Glienicke, featuring elements inspired by Russian Orthodox architecture. The Freischule, designed by Albert Dietrich Schadow, and the adjacent Pfarrhaus (rectory) were established for the education and spiritual needs of the residents, incorporating Russian motifs into their design.

5. Potsdam's City Center

Potsdam's city center stands as a testament to its rich past and dynamic present. Nestled along the banks of the Havel River, this charming urban core exudes a unique blend of architectural grandeur, lush green spaces, and bustling streets lined with boutiques, cafes, and historic landmarks. Whether strolling along its cobblestone streets, exploring its renowned museums, or simply soaking in the atmosphere of its lively squares, Potsdam's city center is a captivating destination that promises to enchant visitors from near and far.

5.1. City Palace

The City Palace stands as a testament to both its storied past and its enduring resilience. Initially constructed in the Baroque style from 1662 to 1669, the palace underwent significant renovations in the mid-18th century, showcasing the exquisite Frederician Rococo style. However, its fate took a tragic turn during World War II when it was heavily damaged by bombings and later dismantled by the East German regime. Despite these adversities, a partial reconstruction was completed in 2013, blending historic facades with modern interiors.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia

5.2. St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church in Potsdam, a masterpiece of Classicist architecture by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, graces the Old Market Square. Built between 1830 and 1837, it endured damage during World War II but was restored and re-consecrated in 1981. Today, it serves as a place of worship and hosts concerts, adding to Potsdam's cultural richness.

5.3. Old Town Hall

The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), situated on the historic Old Market Square, stands as a testament to the city's rich architectural heritage. Built between 1753 and 1755 under the patronage of Frederick the Great, it exemplifies Italian Baroque influence. Severely damaged during World War II, it was reconstructed as a cultural center and now houses the Potsdam Museum since 2012.

5.4. Museum Barberini

The Museum Barberini occupies the reconstructed Palast Barberini, which dates back to the 1770s. The original palace was heavily damaged during a bombing raid on April 14, 1945, towards the end of World War II, leaving only parts of the facade standing. The reconstruction of the Palast Barberini began in August 2013, initiated by Hasso Plattner, a software entrepreneur and patron of the arts. Its exhibitions span from Old Masters to contemporary art, with a focus on impressionist painting. The museum showcases Plattner's collection alongside temporary exhibitions featuring loans from international museums and private collections.

Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France

5.5. Old Market Square

The Alter Markt (Old Market) serves as a pivotal square in Potsdam's historic city center, boasting a rich blend of architectural landmarks. Originally redesigned as a Roman piazza under Frederick the Great in the mid-18th century, the Alter Markt was heavily impacted by the bombings of World War II. The Obelisk, erected in 1753 under the design of Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, symbolizes the square's Roman ambiance. Restored in 2014, it features portraits of significant Potsdam architects, replacing the original Hohenzollern rulers' medallions. Ongoing reconstruction efforts around the Alter Markt promise to restore its former glory, blending historic charm with modern vitality.

5.6. Film Museum in the Royal Stable

The Marstall in Potsdam, built in 1685 as an orangery, and later becoming a royal stable, now houses the Filmmuseum Potsdam since 1981. It's the oldest surviving building in Potsdam and has undergone various transformations over the centuries. Severely damaged in World War II, it narrowly avoided demolition and was repurposed as a military museum before becoming the Filmmuseum. Today, it showcases the history of Studio Babelsberg and offers screenings in its cinema.

(C) Michal Gorski

5.7. New Market Square

The Neuer Markt is one of the best-preserved Baroque squares in Europe. Originally used as a place for hitching and unhitching horses, it later became a hub for new bourgeois houses under the reign of Frederick the Great. Today, it houses several scientific institutions, including the Center for Contemporary History, the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies, and the Einstein Forum. At its center stands the former royal malt and grain weigh house, while the west side is home to the House of Brandenburg-Prussian History, housed in the old carriage horse stable. The east side features the Kabinetthaus, initially a residential building, which later served various purposes, including housing the Royal Engineering Academy.

5.8. Garrison Church

The Garrison Church (Garnisonkirche) in Potsdam, built between 1730 and 1735, symbolized the close ties between the Prussian state and its military. Designed in the Baroque style by architect Philipp Gerlach, it hosted significant royal events and housed the tomb of Frederick the Great. Despite its historical importance, the church was heavily damaged during World War II and demolished in 1968. Efforts to reconstruct it have been met with debate, notably because of the "Day of Potsdam" ceremony on March 21, 1933. This event symbolized the reconciliation between the old Prussian elite and the newly risen Nazi regime, with President Paul von Hindenburg and Chancellor Adolf Hitler attending.

5.9. St. Peter & Paul

St. Peter and Paul Church, completed in 1870, stands as a symbol of both the local parish and the Catholic soldiers stationed in the city. Originally built to serve Catholic workers migrating from Lüttich, Belgium, seeking religious freedom, the church blends Byzantine, Romanesque, and classical styles.

5.10. Soviet War Memorial

The Soviet War Memorial at Bassinplatz, near St. Peter and Paul Church, serves as a solemn tribute to Soviet soldiers buried there since 1945. Established in its current form in 1949, the cemetery features a central memorial adorned with larger-than-life bronze sculptures depicting various military personnel. With 680 soldiers and officers laid to rest in 291 individual and 18 mass graves, the site stands as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made during the battles for Potsdam at the end of World War II.

5.11. French Church

The French Church in downtown Potsdam, built in 1752 for Huguenot refugees, is the city's oldest surviving church. Designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff and later refined by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, it represents a collaboration between two prominent Prussian architects.

5.12. Brandenburg Street

The Brandenburger Straße connects the St. Peter and Paul Church with the Brandenburg Gate. Originally used to quarter Prussian army recruits in the 18th century, the street has become a bustling shopping destination. Lined with historic buildings, it features a pedestrian zone filled with shops.

5.13. Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburger Tor in Potsdam, completed in the 18th century, resembles a Roman triumphal arch. Initially part of the old city wall, the first gate was later replaced during the Second City Expansion under King Frederick II's reign. Designed by Karl von Gontard and Georg Christian Unger, it symbolized victory in the Seven Years' War.

5.14. Great Military Orphanage

The former Großes Militärwaisenhaus, founded in 1724 by King Frederick William I, aimed to care for and educate children of military personnel. It housed an educational institution and was designed to accommodate 1,000 children, providing them with schooling and vocational training. The main building, featuring a prominent dome designed by Carl von Gontard, was heavily damaged during the bombing of Potsdam in 1945 but was later restored, including the reconstruction of the Caritas statue atop the dome. Today, the restored building serves as a symbol of charity and houses various educational and support facilities for children and adolescents.

Steffen Zahn from Berlin, Germany

5.15. Alte Wache

The former Alte Wache, situated at Lindenstraße 45, corner of Charlottenstraße, originally served as the main guardhouse for the city guards. Constructed between 1795 and 1797 by Andreas Ludwig Krüger, it merged two buildings, the soldiers' guardhouse and the customs house, boasting a grand early-classical facade adorned with figure groups representing Mars and Minerva.

5.16. Stasi Prison

The Gedenkstätte Lindenstraße, situated at Lindenstraße 54-55, has a rich history as a former city prison, famously known during the DDR era as the Stasi's prison or colloquially as the Lindenhotel. Constructed between 1737-1739, it initially served as the Commandant's House, a residence for officers of local military units, before housing the Potsdam city court and a detention facility in 1817. During the Nazi regime, from 1934 to 1944, it hosted the "Erbgesundheitsgericht Potsdam," which ordered forced sterilizations of disabled individuals. Following World War II, it housed Soviet military tribunal investigation departments until 1952 when it was taken over by the Ministry for State Security (Stasi) and used as an interrogation and detention facility. After reunification, the site was designated as a memorial site by the city council.

Urheber: GodeNehler Quelle: Eigenarbeit Lizenz: CC BY-SA 4.0

5.17. Jägertor

The Jägertor, situated in Potsdam's downtown area, was once part of the city's outer boundary alongside other gates like the Nauener Tor and Brandenburger Tor. Built in 1733, it's the city's oldest surviving gate, featuring a simple yet elegant design topped with a hunting scene. Its name comes from a royal hunting lodge nearby.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia

5.18. Nauen Gate

The Nauener Tor, located on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße at the intersection with Hegelallee and Kurfürstenstraße, is one of Potsdam's most renowned landmarks, constructed in the 18th century. Reconstructed in 1876 in a neo-Gothic style based on a design by King Frederick II, the gate underwent restoration in the 1990s, reverting to its original color scheme. Today, the Nauener Tor's city-facing side hosts bustling cafes and restaurants, creating a vibrant hub within Potsdam's historic cityscape.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia

5.19. Dutch Quarter

The Dutch Quarter stands as a vibrant testament to the city's rich cultural heritage and historic ties to the Netherlands. Established in the 18th century by King Frederick William I, who sought to attract skilled Dutch artisans and craftsmen to Potsdam, the Dutch Quarter is characterized by its distinctive red-brick architecture and charming cobblestone streets. Comprising over 150 Dutch-style houses, the quarter exudes a unique atmosphere, reminiscent of Amsterdam's canal-side neighborhoods. Today, the Dutch Quarter is a bustling hub of activity, housing an array of boutique shops, cafes, art galleries, and museums, offering visitors a delightful blend of Dutch-inspired architecture and contemporary amenities.

5.20. Freemasons' Lodge House

The Freemasons' Lodge House, located at 52 Kurfürstenstraße, near the Dutch Quarter and the Nauener Tor, has a rich history. Originally founded by the Freemasons' Lodge "Teutonia zur Weisheit," the building was inaugurated in 1881 and later served as a cultural center for the German-Soviet Friendship (DSF) during the forced dissolution of the lodge in 1935. It now houses a restaurant.

5.21. Town Hall

The Potsdam City Hall is situated in the Nauener Vorstadt district of Potsdam, at Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 79/81. This complex houses various municipal offices, including the city administration, citizen services, and the registry office. Construction began in 1902 and lasted for five years. The complex consisted of the main building, housing government offices, the residence of the government president, and a stable building.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia

5.22. Island of Friendship

The Freundschaftsinsel, situated amidst the picturesque landscape of Potsdam, evolved from alluvial land into a haven of natural beauty and cultural significance. Initially encircled by a defensive palisade, the island acquired its name from a tavern established there centuries ago. In the 1930s, it transformed into a horticultural marvel under the guidance of Karl Foerster and Hermann Mattern, showcasing a diverse array of flora.

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

5.23. Minsk Museum

The Minsk Kunsthaus, originally a restaurant, has been transformed into a contemporary art museum thanks to industrialist and art patron Hasso Plattner and his charitable foundation. Opening its doors to the public on September 24, 2022, the museum features exhibitions focusing on both DDR art and contemporary artists. The building's history dates back to the 1960s, initially serving as a belarussian cuisine restaurant named Minsk, before closing in 2000.

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

5.24. The Royal Prussian War School

The historical Royal Prussian War School, erected from 1899 to 1902 in Potsdam's Brauhausberg on the orders of Kaiser Wilhelm II, has seen various uses over the years. Despite the school's dissolution in 1919, it remained in constant use, housing the Brandenburg State Parliament from 1946 to 1952 and again from 1990 to 2013. From December 2015 to September 2018, it served as a refugee shelter, and plans are underway to convert it into 200 apartments. During the GDR era, it gained the nickname "Kremlin" due to its imposing presence.

Wolfgang Pehelmann, Wiesbaden Germany

5.25. Schiffbauergasse & Hans Otto Theater

Schiffbauergasse, is a cultural hub known for its vibrant arts scene and historic landmarks. The Schinkelhalle, named after the renowned architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, serves as a versatile event space, hosting exhibitions, concerts, and other cultural events. Reithalle A and Reithalle B, originally horse stables, have been repurposed into dynamic venues for performances, workshops, and community gatherings. The Hans Otto Theater, named after the German actor and director, offers a diverse program of theatrical productions. It is a striking five-story structure blending concrete, glass, and steel, incorporating a historic gasometer.

5.26. Hiller-Brandtsche Häuser

The Hiller-Brandt Houses, completed in 1769, stand at Breite Straße 8 to 12. King Frederick II commissioned the reconstruction and expansion of these two merchant houses into a unified facade, designed by architect Georg Christian Unger, along with the addition of a barracks. Named after its occupants, merchant Johann Friedrich Hiller and tailor Johann Gebhardt Brandt, the building now houses rental and condominium apartments following its renovation in 2013. Under the protection of historical preservation, the buildings boast rich architectural detail, sculptural ornamentation, and restored interiors.

5.27. Kellertor

The Kellertor, one of Potsdam's ten historic city gates, stood as the eastern gateway to the waterways. Initially a wooden structure, King Frederick II transformed it into a picturesque ensemble in 1788. The guardhouse, featuring late baroque adornments, emerged after the king's passing, housing two grenadiers and a customs officer. Despite serving as a tax collection point until 1909, the Kellertor was damaged in World War II and later partially demolished. In 2017, after faithful reconstruction, it reopened as a residential building, with a riverside park now adorning its apex.

6. Babelsberg District

The Babelsberg district, nestled in the southwestern part of Potsdam, holds rich historical and cultural significance. Renowned for its film industry, it houses the historic Babelsberg Studios, one of Europe's oldest film production facilities.

6.1. Babelsberg Filmpark

Filmpark Babelsberg is a captivating destination where visitors can delve into the magic of filmmaking. As the theme park associated with the renowned Babelsberg Studios, it offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of movie production. Visitors can explore film sets, learn about special effects, and even participate in interactive shows and attractions that bring cinematic adventures to life. From stunt shows to behind-the-scenes tours, Filmpark Babelsberg provides an immersive experience for movie enthusiasts of all ages, making it a must-visit destination for anyone fascinated by the world of film.

6.2. Studio Babelsberg

Studio Babelsberg is one of Europe's oldest and most renowned film studios, with a rich history dating back to 1912. It has played a significant role in the global film industry, producing numerous iconic movies over the decades. The studio boasts state-of-the-art facilities and sound stages, making it a preferred location for both international and domestic film productions. From classic films to modern blockbusters, Studio Babelsberg continues to be a vital hub for cinematic creativity, attracting filmmakers and artists from around the world. With its illustrious heritage and ongoing contributions to the film industry, Studio Babelsberg remains an integral part of cinematic history.

6.3. Weberviertel

The Weberviertel, originally centered around Weberplatz in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Brandenburg, is a testament to the history of Bohemian Protestants. Established in 1750 by Frederick II, it aimed to attract new settlers to the war and plague-ravaged land, offering them tax and religious freedom along with a small weaver's house and plot of land. The neighborhood, initially known as Nowawes, consisted of small weaver houses, typically occupied by two families, with a central entrance leading to a living and working area. The Friedrichskirche, built in 1752-1753 by Jan Bouman, stands on Weberplatz, serving as a place of worship for Bohemian immigrants. Today, remnants of this historic district, including 104 preserved weaver houses and the Friedrichskirche, offer insights into the area's past.

6.4. Former City Hall

The Kulturhaus Babelsberg, located in the former Babelsberg Town Hall, is a cultural hub with a rich history. Built between 1898 and 1899 by architect Julius Otto Kerwien, it features a historicist brick façade adorned with glazed bricks and sculpted sandstone elements. Initially known as Rathaus Nowawes, it became a center for community activities and cultural events after being converted into a club house in 1956. Today it offers a range of cultural activities, workshops, and events for all ages, including concerts, theater, art classes, and film screenings.

6.5. Neuendorf Church

The Neuendorfer Church, also known as the "Octagon" due to its distinctive shape, is situated on the Neuendorfer Anger. Originally constructed in the 16th century, the current octagonal building was designed by architect Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse, incorporating elements inspired by the Church of St. Gereon in Cologne, according to a sketch by King Frederick William IV.

6.6. Truman's Villa

The Truman Villa, formerly known as Villa Müller-Grote or House Erlenkamp, is a historic residence located at Karl-Marx-Strasse 2 in Potsdam-Babelsberg. During the Potsdam Conference in 1945, it gained its name when President Harry S. Truman resided here, earning the nickname "Little White House." Truman famously issued the order for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from this villa. Acquired by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in 1998, it underwent renovation from 1999 to 2001, incorporating modern office space alongside the original villa. Today, the foundation uses it as its headquarters. Adjacent to the Truman Villa lies the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Square. The memorial features a large, 36-ton polished Norwegian syenite stone, representing the "Altar of Remembrance," and incorporates stones from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, inscribed with messages in Japanese, English, and German.

Originally uploaded to the German Wikipedia by the author, Karstenknuth

6.7. Stalin's Villa

The two-story Villa Herpich, located at Karl-Marx-Strasse 27, was designed by Swedish architect Alfred Grenander for Paul Herpich in 1910-1911. During the Potsdam Conference from July 17 to August 2, 1945, Josef Stalin resided here, after the Herpich family was forced to vacate the premises within hours. The villa, once part of a Stalin memorial site established in 1953 but later stripped of its status due to revelations of Stalin's crimes, features a plaque commemorating Stalin's stay during the conference. In the post-war period, the villa housed institutions such as the German Academy for State and Legal Studies and the University of Film and Television. Subsequently, it was acquired by the Construction Industry Association of Berlin-Brandenburg, which now utilizes the villa for office space and lobbying purposes.

6.8. Churchill's Villa

The Villa Urbig, also known as "Haus Seefried," located in Potsdam's Babelsberg district, was built in 1915 for Franz Urbig, a Deutsche Bank co-owner, by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. During the Potsdam Conference in 1945, it housed British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and later served as a guesthouse for the GDR's Academy of State and Legal Studies. Acquired in 2005 by entrepreneur Theodor Semmelhaack and subsequently by Hasso Plattner in 2009, the villa underwent restoration, with plans for concert evenings in its historic halls, marking its significance in history and culture.

6.9. Villa Schade van Westrum

The Landhaus Schade van Westrum has a rich history dating back to its construction in 1890 for Dr. Anton Heyroth. Designed by architect Johannes Lange, it underwent significant renovations in 1927 by architect Ernst Ludwig Freud, son of Sigmund Freud. Over the years, it served as a guesthouse for dignitaries like British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden during the Potsdam Conference and wa the hiding place for writer Erich Kästner in the early 1940s. Occupied by Soviet forces post-war, it later transitioned to civilian ownership, undergoing restoration and returning to the descendants of its original owner.

6.10. Villa Sarre

The Villa Sarre, built in 1906 by architect Otto Sior for Professor Friedrich Sarre, features oriental decorations, including a 12-meter ceramic frieze depicting lions, inspired by ancient Babylonian art. After Sarre's passing in 1945, the villa served various purposes, including as a Soviet command post and later as part of the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen.

(C) Andreas Thiele

6.11. Villa Fernbach

The Villa Fernbach, situated in Babelsberg's Karl-Marx-Straße 4, is a charming Swiss-style house built in 1905 for newspaper publisher Otto Fernbach. Its interior exudes spaciousness, while its exterior captivates with rustic charm, adorned with a stag's antlers on the gable side.

6.12. More Villas in Neubabelsberg

All the above villas are part of the Villenkolonie (villa colony) Neubabelsberg, situated along Lake Griebnitz, dating back to 1873. Initially centered around the Neubabelsberg railway station, it became a haven for UFA film stars, artists, and affluent residents. During the Potsdam Conference, Neubabelsberg hosted Allied leaders in various villas. Today, many villas are privately owned and restored, though legal disputes persist over public access to the lakeshore, which has become popular since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

(C) André Stiebitz, Lizens: PMSG

7. More places in and around Potsdam

Explore beyond the well-trodden paths of Potsdam and discover a tapestry of captivating locales waiting to be uncovered. From historic landmarks to picturesque neighborhoods, the area surrounding Potsdam offers a wealth of hidden gems waiting to be explored. Let's delve into seven more places that add depth and charm to the cultural landscape of this enchanting region.

7.1. Biosphäre

Discover the wonders of nature at Biosphäre Potsdam, an indoor paradise nestled in Volkspark Potsdam. Step into different ecosystems, from lush rainforests to vibrant coral reefs, all under one roof. Explore tropical gardens, marine aquariums, and encounter a variety of plant and animal species.

7.2. Volkspark

The Volkspark Potsdam, located in the Bornstedter Feld area of northern Potsdam, spans 65 hectares and offers various recreational activities such as disc golf, jogging, and cycling. Its main attraction is the Biosphäre Potsdam. Established in 2001 as part of the Bundesgartenschau, it serves as both a modern garden and a popular leisure destination. There's also a hidden bust of Lenin to be found, as the whole area used to be a Soviet military ground.

7.3. Einstein Tower & Science Park

The Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein, or Albert Einstein Science Park encompasses the famous Einsteinturm (Einstein Tower). The Einsteinturm, constructed between 1919 and 1921, is an architectural marvel designed by architect Erich Mendelsohn. It served as a solar observatory and played a crucial role in validating Einstein's theory of relativity. Today, the tower stands as a symbol of scientific advancement and innovation, attracting visitors interested in astronomy and physics. The surrounding science park hosts various research institutions, making it a hub for scientific exploration and discovery.

7.4. Caputh Palace

Caputh is a charming town located near Potsdam, renowned for its historical significance and scenic beauty. One of its notable landmarks is Caputh Palace, a majestic Baroque-style palace built in the 17th century. Originally constructed as a hunting lodge, it later served as a summer residence for Frederick William I of Prussia and his family.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia

7.5. Einsteinhaus

Another highlight of Caputh is the Einsteinhaus, where the renowned physicist Albert Einstein lived with his family during the 1920s. Einstein's summer residence offers insight into his life and work, featuring exhibits and displays about his scientific contributions and personal life. Visitors can explore the rooms where Einstein pondered the mysteries of the universe and enjoy the tranquil surroundings that inspired his groundbreaking ideas. The Einsteinhaus provides a unique opportunity to delve into the mind of one of the greatest scientific minds in history while soaking in the serene atmosphere of Caputh.

7.6. Groß-Glienicke's Alexanderhaus

The Alexander-Haus, known through the novel The House By The Lake: Berlin. One House. Five Families. A Hundred years of History by Thomas Harding, is a protected building located on the shores of Lake Groß Glienicke in the Potsdam district of Groß Glienicke. It was constructed in 1927 as a weekend and summer retreat for the family of Dr. Alfred Alexander, a Jewish physician and president of the Berlin Medical Association at the time. After the family emigrated to Britain in 1936, the property changed hands multiple times, eventually falling into disrepair and vandalism. The architecture of the house reflects its origins as a weekend retreat, with a single-story design made of pine wood. It originally featured nine rooms, including bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen, and even accommodations for a chauffeur. Today, the Alexander-Haus stands as a preserved piece of history, offering insights into the lifestyle of affluent Berliners in the early 20th century.

(C) André Wagner

7.7. Gutshof Nedlitz

The Gutshof Nedlitz, with its distinctive Norman castle-style architecture dating back to the mid-19th century, has long been a landmark gateway to Potsdam. Once an administrative center, it is now part of the revitalization project of Insel Neu Fahrland, preserving historic structures while introducing modern residential units.

(C) pkfotografie

7.8. Marquardt Palace

The Schloss Marquardt, located about 15 km northwest of Potsdam's city center, boasts a rich history as a noble residence, bourgeois estate, and even a hotel, hospital, and university institute. Today, it serves as a venue for various events like weddings and offers an atmospheric setting for film and television productions.

7.9. Villa Adlon

The Villa Adlon, built in 1925 in the Neobaroque style, is a grand bourgeois villa in Potsdam's Neu Fahrland district. Commissioned by Louis Adlon and designed by Hans Rottmayer, it combines Neobaroque elements with expressionist designs. After various uses, including as a children's clinic and a civil defense school, it now houses a hotel. In 2023, it hosted a controversial meeting of far-right extremists, leading to widespread cancellations.

7.10. Sacrow Palace

Schloss Sacrow, built in 1773 by Swedish General Johann Ludwig von Hordt, stands in Potsdam's Sacrow district. Originally a manor house, it was expanded over the years, notably by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in 1840, who added a church and extensions. In the 20th century, it served various purposes, including as a residence for government officials and as military quarters. Today, it hosts temporary exhibitions and cultural events while restoration efforts continue.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia

7.11. Church of the Redeemer

The Church of the Redeemer, also known as Heilandskirche, stands south of Sacrow. Built in 1844, its Italian Romanesque Revival style and separate bell tower make it a notable architectural landmark. It was designed by Ludwig Persius based on King Frederick William IV's sketches. Despite being closed from 1961 to 1989 due to the Berlin Wall, the church has undergone extensive restoration and continues to host regular worship services and concerts.

7.12. Hunting Palace Stern

Jagdschloss Stern is a hunting lodge in Potsdam, built from 1730 to 1732. It was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm I in the style of a simple Dutch townhouse. Originally situated in a vast hunting ground, it now stands in the Stern district of Potsdam. The lodge, managed by the Foundation of Prussian Palaces and Gardens, is the oldest surviving castle in Potsdam, offering insight into royal hunting traditions and architectural simplicity favored by Friedrich Wilhelm I.

7.13. Karl Foerster Garden

The Karl Foerster Garden, established by German gardener and perennial breeder Karl Foerster (1874–1970) in Potsdam-Bornim, features diverse thematic areas such as the Sunken Garden, Nature Garden, Rock Garden, Spring Path, Autumn Bed, and Fern Gorge. The garden, originally designed in 1912 and spanning 0.5 hectares, serves as a testament to Foerster's innovative plant breeding and gardening techniques, with many of his 300 cultivars tested for resilience and frost tolerance on-site.

7.14. Kartzow Palace

Schloss Kartzow, located in Potsdam's Kartzow district, is a charming manor house steeped in history. Originally built as a knight's estate, it was reconstructed in the early 20th century in baroque style by architect Eugen Schmohl. Over the years, it served various purposes, from housing a spirits manufacturer to being used as a film set and later as a recovery home. Following extensive restoration in 2007, the castle became a sought-after venue for weddings and events, with a hotel opening in 2010. Today, Schloss Kartzow stands as a historic landmark, offering guests a glimpse into its past while providing a picturesque setting for celebrations and relaxation.

157 views0 comments