Exploring the Prussian palaces, parks and museums of Potsdam
Stunning architecture, World Heritage sites and a movie studio: Brandenburg's capital city has plenty to offer visitors. Here are some of the top sites.
Sanssouci — made for relaxation
"Sans souci," which means without care, is what Prussian King Fredrick the Great wished to be when he had his summer residence built in 1747. It was intended to be a small affair, only 12 rooms, located on a vineyard. But the place is anything but tranquil these days — Frederick's favorite palace has become the main tourist attraction in Potsdam.
Babelsberg Castle Park — World Heritage Site
Frederick the Great ignited a building boom in Potsdam that resulted in 17 palaces and castles. Most are surrounded by wonderful parks and gardens, many of which have been awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO.
Museum Barberini — an art mecca
Modern art in a baroque palace: The Museum Barberini, located in Barberini Palace, features artworks from East Germany, post-1989 German art, as well as major impressionist works. The palace that houses the museum was modeled after the Palazzo Barberini in Rome — the original Potsdam building was heavily damaged during World War II.
Water taxi — a different kind of city tour
Potsdam is located on a peninsula and surrounded by seven lakes. The best way to explore these is by boat. Many tourist attractions can be visited by water taxi, including the futuristic Hans-Otto-Theater building.
City Palace — home to the state parliament
Badly damaged during the Second World War, the building's ruins were demolished by the former East German government. From 2010 to 2014 it was reconstructed, complete with historical facades and a modern interior. Today, the building houses the Brandenburg state parliament.
St. Nikolas Church — dizzying heights
Although at first glance it may appear to be one of Potsdam's many palaces, this impressive domed building is St. Nicolas Church. It was constructed between 1830 and 1850 based on plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the Prussian star architect of the neoclassical era. Reaching a height of 77 meters, the domed-church distinctly defines Potsdam's city center.
Dutch Quarter — charming brick buildings
During the 18th-century building boom, there was a lack of skilled workers. Some 134 houses were built in the Dutch style in order to tempt builders from Holland to move to Potsdam. Although the plan failed to attract the labor force, it did create a charming quarter with small cafés and shops that are popular with tourists.
Cecilienhof Palace — where history was made
The idyllic country house residence was originally built for the Prussian crown prince. In 1945, it came into the world's focus as the location where Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill and Harry Truman held the Potsdam Conference. Here, the leaders of the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the USA made important decisions that affected post-war Europe. The Cold War began shortly thereafter.
Glienicker Bridge — spy thriller location
One shore in Berlin, the other in Potsdam — the Glienicker Bridge is a straightforward connection between the two cities. However, from 1961 until 1989 the Berlin Wall ran right across the center of the bridge, making it an ideal point of exchange for captured secret agents of both political systems. Steven Spielberg even used it as the setting for his 2015 film "Bridge of Spies."
Babelsberg — a touch of Hollywood
Many big names have stood in front and behind the camera in Potsdam, including Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt to name a few. The Babelsberg film studios were founded in 1912 and are among the most prominent studios in Europe. The set "Berlin Road" (pictured) cost €16 million ($18.8 million) to build and is intended to attract big productions to Potsdam.