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.
Potsdam is the capital and largest city of the German state of Brandenburg. It directly borders Berlin, and is part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel some 25 kilometres or 16 miles southwest of Berlin’s city centre.
Potsdam was a residence of the Kings of Prussia and the Emperors of Germany until 1918. Its planning embodied ideas of the Age of Enlightenment: through a careful balance of architecture and landscape, Potsdam was intended as “a picturesque, pastoral dream” which would remind its residents of their relationship with nature and reason.
The city which is over 1,000 years old is widely known for its palaces, its lakes, and its overall historical and cultural significance.
Landmarks include the parks and palaces of Sanssouci as well as other palaces such as the Orangery Palace, the New Palace, the Cecilienhof Palace, or the Charlottenhof Palace.
Potsdam was also the location of the significant Potsdam Conference in 1945, the conference where the three heads of government of the USSR, the United States, and the United Kingdom decided on the division of Germany following its surrender, a conference which defined Germany’s history for the following 45 years.
Potsdam is also the home of Babelsberg. These cinema walhalla was already by the 1930s the home of a major film production studio and it has enjoyed success as an important center of European film production since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Filmstudio Babelsberg is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world.
Potsdam developed into a centre of science in Germany in the 19th century. Today, there are three public colleges, the University of Potsdam, and more than 30 research institutes in the city.
Quaint and cosy
After visiting Sanssouci, we took a bus back to the city centre for lunch. The Brandenburger Straße is the place in the city centre for a café, a restaurant or a Currywurst joint. The street starts at Potsdam’s Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor).
We had lunch at My Keng.
After lunch we wandered through town, passing the Nauen Gate (Nauener Tor), the Dutch Quarter (Holländisches Viertel) , Potsdam City Palace (Potsdamer Stadstschloss) hosting the Landtag or State Parliament and St. Nicholas Church (St. Nikolaikirche).
We were charmed by Potsdam. Definitely worth an excursion from Berlin.