Potsdam lies outside Berlin, Germany. It is not usually on the itinerary of visitors to Berlin but we decided to check it out.
Unfortunately, we only had a day to roam around the city and could only cover Sanssouci Park and Babelsberg Park. You would probably need two or three days to check out all the palaces, forests and gardens, some of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Potsdam was formerly part of East Germany and retains some buildings and history from its communist past. Other buildings have been turned into restaurants, pubs and souvenir shops. You kind of get a squeaky clean-feel from the pastel buildings especially along the pedestrian street to the Brandenburger Tor just outside the park – it is as though they had been cleansed and painted to hide the grim past.
There is a fee to enter many of the palaces but not for the parks. The gardens and parks are well maintained and beautifully landscaped. Some of the palaces and historical buildings are slightly sooty and grimy, though, but you can still see the fine details carved on walls and door frames.
After entering Sanssouci Park, we went to the Church of Peace. This church is a burial place for kings and queens of old Prussia.
There is a series of terraced walls planted with grape vines and flowering creepers between the steps leading to the Sanssouci Palace. From the bottom, it looks as if the palace was nestled on top of the plants. This palace was built based on Emperor Frederick the Great’s ideas. It has an amazing interior but we weren’t able to see everything as we were pressed for time.
Many of the buildings and palaces in Potsdam were built with foreign “themes” – there is the Chinese House, the Historic Windmill, Roman Baths and Charlottenhof Palace. You can just walk from one property to another, but it might take a while to cover everything.
Walking also allows visitors to take the time to enjoy the mini gardens, beautiful terraces and gorgeous lawns as well as arches made from live trees. Dotted around are secluded enclaves with benches and marble statues.
At the end of the Sanssouci park is the New Palace, which sadly was under renovation. A giant canvas and scaffolding covered part of the palace but somehow it still looked grand.
After much needed refreshments at the Historic Inner City, we set off to Babelsberg Park, which is just one train stop away. Stepping into the park, we strolled along gravel paths running among heavily wooded forests with thick undergrowth. Here, one could imagine wild deer and foxes hiding behind bushes and trees watching over us as we trespass into their home.
The charming English-style Babelsberg Palace is seen over the brow of a small hillock. In front of the palace is a courtyard with a fountain and the palace looks down onto a lake with the Glienicke Bridge. This bridge joining Potsdam with Berlin and was used for prisoner exchanges between the superpowers during the Cold War.
Dragging ourselves away from this palace and with the sun waning, we strolled along the lake back to the train station. Along the way, we passed by the Klienes Schloss and caught sight of Flatow Tower and Sailor’s House over a hill.
To end our wonderful stroll, nature gave us a dragon-shaped cloud on the horizon, with the setting sun in the background.
** The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.
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