Autumn 2021. In theory we could travel to other continents, but destinations we had in mind such as Japan or the United Kingdom were impossible to plan ahead. Instead we organised a rail trip to Eastern Europe, travelling to Berlin, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava, Poprad, Vienna, Linz and Salzburg. By travelling to Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, we explored an area which was in a not too distant)past bonded together by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and by Austria-Hungary.
Our journey from Antwerp to Berlin via Brussels and Cologne was uneventful. Danny and I described travelling on Deutsche Bahn‘s (DB) ICE trains often, so we’re not reviewing the journey this time around. In Hamm (Westfalen) in Westphalia we had to change trains because our train had technical issues after coupling with another train. But other than that, it was uneventful.
The ICE 2 is more comfortable the ICE 4 we had last year.
Have look here if you want to know what it’s like.
- The delicious German state secret: dining onboard Deutsche Bahn.
- Travelling on Deutsche Bahn’s new ICE 4 from Frankfurt to Leipzig.
- Zürich – Frankfurt – Brussels with Deutsche Bahn’s ICE high speed trains.
- Coping with train delays and cancellations: Zug – Antwerp when everything goes wrong.
- Antwerp to Zug: the Frankfurt – Zurich Business Route.
- Managing to get from Antwerp to Zug despite a corona ghost train.
- Antwerp – Brussels – Cologne – Basel – Zürich – Zug by train.
- How we plan a big rail trip.
- 2021, European Year of Rail.
- By ICE from Leipzig to Nuremberg.
- My first railtrip part 5: by train on a boat.
No worries at Sanssouci
I visited Postdam‘s palaces in 2015, but Sanssouci has been on Danny’s wish list for a while. So we planned a visit.
Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg and is situated some 25 km southwest of Berlin’s city centre. Potsdam is famous for Sanssouci, French for ‘without worry’.
Built by Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, as his summer palace, it is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park.
The palace was designed and built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 to fulfill King Frederick’s need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court.
Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story villa. More like the Château de Marly than Versailles. Containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as ‘Frederician Rococo’.
Because of a disagreement about the site of the palace in the park, Knobelsdorff was fired in 1746. Jan Bouman, a Dutch architect, finished the project.
Sanssouci Palace and its reflection in the pond at Sanssouci Park.
During the 19th century, the palace became a residence of Frederick William IV. He employed the architect Ludwig Persius to restore and enlarge the palace, while Ferdinand von Arnim was charged with improving the grounds and thus the view from the palace. The town of Potsdam, with its palaces, was a favourite place of residence for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918.
After World War II, the palace became a tourist attraction in East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Frederick’s body was returned to the palace and buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created. Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a World Heritage Site in 1990 under the protection of UNESCO.
In 1995, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg was established to care for Sanssouci and the other former imperial palaces in and around Berlin. These palaces are now visited by more than two million people a year from all over the world.
In 2015 Frank and I drove to Potsdam. Now Danny and I stayed at InterContinental Berlin and we first took the RE train and tram 91 to from Potsdam Railway Station to Sanssouci.
As it was a sunny day, the walk towards Sanssouci was pleasant.
We started with the New Rooms or Neue Kammern. The audioguide was as often is with audioguides informative but slow. Ca you cut the pauses and musical interludes a bit? Thank you.
King of Potatoes
Sanssouci itself didn’t change. The hunting lodge isn’t that big, but stylish. When you visit Sanssouci, don’t forget to pay a visit to Frederick II’s grave. His dogs are buried next to him. His grave is decorated with potatoes. Der Alte Fritz was a big advocate for potatoes.
The Bildergallerie is next to the royal grave. It’s what you expect it be: many paintings of Dutch, Flemish and Italian masters. Including Peter Paul Rubens and Sir Anthony Van Dyck.
We wanted to visit the colossal New Palace or Neues Palais.
“Frederick rarely stayed here himself; instead the palace was mostly used as guest apartments and for celebrations. The recently restored Lower Royal Suite, with its Braided Room, Concert Room and Oval Cabinet, presents one of Europe’s most luxurious interior décors”, the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg says.
Later, William II, the last German emperor, and his family used the New Palace as their preferred place of residence.
But, but, but. The New Palace is closed on Tuesdays! So we could not visit. Boo!
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