Top Historic Sights in Potsdam, Germany

Explore the historic highlights of Potsdam

Sanssouci Palace

The Park Sanssouci was originally an orchard near Potsdam. This was the favorite retreat of King Frederick II - later known as Frederick the Great. Here he could stay without worries (hence the name sans souci, French for "without worries"). No women were allowed in Sanssouci, not even the king"s wife. In 1744 the king commissioned architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff to build a summer palace, the Schloss Sanssouc ...
Founded: 1744 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

New Palace

The New Palace (Neues Palais) is a palace situated on the western side of the Sanssouci royal park. It is considered to be the last great Prussian baroque palace. The building was begun in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years' War, under Frederick the Great and was completed in 1769. It was purposed to celebrate Prussia’s success. In an architectural form, Frederick the Great sought to demonstrate the power and glori ...
Founded: 1763-1769 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

New Chambers

The New Chambers in Sanssouci Park, Potsdam, were constructed for King Frederick the Great of Prussia from 1771 to 1775. The building, which stands to the west of Sanssouci Palace, serves as a complement to the Picture Gallery, which lies to the east. Both buildings flank the summer palace. The chambers replaced an orangery, which had been built at that site in 1745 on plans by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff and held ...
Founded: 1771-1775 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Church of Peace

The Protestant Church of Peace (Friedenskirche) is situated in the palace grounds of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. The church was built according to the wishes and with the close involvement of the artistically gifted King Frederick William IV and designed by the court architect, Ludwig Persius. After Persius" death in 1845, the architect Friedrich August Stüler was charged with continuing his work. Building includ ...
Founded: 1845 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Orangery Palace

The Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss) was built by the Romantic on the Throne, Friedrich Wilhelm IV from 1851 to 1864. The architects Friedrich August Stüler and Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse designed it in the style of the Italian Renaissance, after the image of the Villa Medici in Rome and the Uffizi in Florence. The middle building with its twin towers is the actual castle. This building is joined to the 103 meter long and ...
Founded: 1851-1864 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Cecilienhof Palace

Cecilienhof Palace was built from 1914 to 1917. Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the establishment of a fund for constructing this new palace at Potsdam for his oldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm (William) and his wife, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 19 December 1912. 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. ...
Founded: 1914-1917 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Pfingstberg Belvedere

The Belvedere on the Pfingstberg is a palace in the northern part of the New Garden in Potsdam, atop Pfingstberg mountain. It was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm IV and is only one part of an originally substantially more extensive building project. The twin-towered building was modeled on of Italian Renaissance architecture, and it was built between 1847 and 1863 with an interruption from 1852 to 1860. From sketches of ...
Founded: 1847-1863 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Roman Baths

The Roman Baths reflect the Italiensehnsucht of its creator Frederick William IV of Prussia. Various classical Roman and antique Italian styles were melded into an architectural ensemble, created between 1829 and 1840. While still crown prince, Frederick William commissioned both Charlottenhof (1826-1829) and the Roman Baths (1834-1840). Coming up with numerous ideas and drawing many actual drafts, the artistically incli ...
Founded: 1829-1840 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Charlottenhof Palace

Charlottenhof Palace is located southwest of Sanssouci Palace. It is most famous as the summer residence of Crown Prince Frederick William (later King Frederick William IV of Prussia). Officially the palace and park were named Charlottenhof in honor of Maria Charlotte von Gentzkow who had owned the property from 1790 to 1794. The park area with its various buildings can be traced back to the 18th century. After it had ch ...
Founded: 1826-1829 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Babelsberg Palace

Babelsberg Palace lies in the eponymous park and quarter of Potsdam, the capital of the German state of Brandenburg. For over 50 years it was the summer residence of Prince William, later Emperor William I and his wife, Augusta of the House of Saxe-Weimar. On 22 September 1862 in the palace and adjoining park the discussion between King William I and Bismarck took place that ended with the nomination of Bismarck as Minist ...
Founded: 1835-1849 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Marmorpalais

The Marmorpalais (marble palace) was a royal residence commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia and designed in the early classicist style by the architects Carl von Gontard and (from 1789) Carl Gotthard Langhans, designer of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. The Marmorpalais was reserved for the private use of the king, who had an artistic temperament. With this new construction the nephew and successor of Frederick the ...
Founded: 1787-1792 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Church of the Redeemer

The Protestant Church of the Redeemer (Heilandskirche) is famous for its Italian Romanesque Revival architecture with a separate campanile (bell tower) and for its scenic location. It was built in 1844. The design was based on drawings by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, called the Romantic on the Throne. The building was realized by Ludwig Persius, the king"s favorite architect. The church is situated on the ba ...
Founded: 1844 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Lindstedt Palace

Lindstedt Palace is part of the ensemble of courtyards and gardens of Potsdam. It was built in the second half of the 19th century by Friedrich Wilhelm IV in late classicism style. The authors were four architect, including the famous Friedrich Ludwig Persius and Friedrich August Stüler. The palace is listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin.
Founded: 1858-1861 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.