March 19, 2009
Potsdam: a perfect day trip from Berlin
Just outside Berlin is one of Germany’s most enchanting destinations: Potsdam. The one-time residence of Prussian kings and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is set among a chain of lakes, and features royal palaces and gardens, a historic town center filled with unique boutiques and great restaurants, and unique architectural works from the Baroque to the 20th century.
The most famous destination in Potsdam is undoubtedly Park Sanssouci, 700 acres of beautiful parkland filled with royal palaces and gardens. In 1744, Prussian King Frederick II (Frederick the Great), began building his Rococo-style summer residence there, the intimate Sanssouci Palace. Successive monarchs constructed their own palaces, pavilions and pleasure gardens throughout the park, including a Chinese teahouse, a Roman villa and baths, an Italian Renaissance orangerie, a Romantic hilltop ruin, vineyards, and a monumental neo-Classical palace with a Grotto Room elaborately decorated in seashells.
Not far from Park Sanssouci are several other interesting royal palaces and gardens, such as the New Garden and its half-timbered Cecilienhof Palace. A must for history buffs, Cecilienhof hosted the Potsdam Conference in 1945.
The town of Potsdam has its own intriguing atmosphere and architectural heritage, much of it built under the direction of the royalty: Dutch-style brick row houses in the Dutch Quarter, rustic Russian wooden cottages and a Russian Orthodox church in the Russian Colony, a walking street lined with elegant Baroque townhouses, a Moorish mosque-style water pumping station, and more.
The outskirts of Potsdam too, are filled with interesting sites. Hidden on a hilltop is the Einstein Tower (Einsteinturm), an expressionist-style observatory designed by Erich Mendelsohn that’s a landmark of early 20th-century architecture. We arrange private visits for those interested. The neighboring town of Babelsberg is home to Babelsberg Palace and Park, the legendary UFA film studios, and the Neubabelsberg villa district, where Mies van der Rohe designed some of his first buildings.
Potsdam has so many attractions spread over such a large area, it can be overwhelming. Our clients have their own guide and driver so their private Potsdam tours can take in all of the most interesting and most important sites in the town and along the way to and from Berlin–including the Grunewald district and its exclusive villas, many of which have great architectural and historic importance; and the Liebermann Villa, the former home of German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann (1847-1935) and his wife.
Potsdam is also one of our most popular shore excursions for travelers who want to make the most of their limited time in Berlin and the surrounding region.