Potsdam: Berlin’s beautiful – but less famous – version of Versailles.

Despite having very little time to visit Berlin, I somehow ended up spending half a day in Potsdam, which is only some twenty minutes away by train. Luckily, I had a “local tourist” to join me.


I met Lis in Namibia, during Oktoberfest in Windhoek. We somehow kept in touch through Facebook, despite the fact that we only talked to each other for something like 2 hours, between beer 8 and 12. Incidentally, her sister lives in Potsdam. As the place of residence of Prussian Kings and later, Germain Kaisers, it was seen as a second capital to Berlin until the capitulation of William II (not related to Kim Jong Il), at the end of the Great War.


The main touristic attraction is the Sanssouci Palace, built for Frederick the Great in the mid-18th century. With only 12 rooms, it is not a palace designed to host State functions, but rather a private retreat.


Funny that in a rococo palace not exactly designed for simplicity…


… the beds for kings and princes are ridiculous single beds recessed in a closet. The ceiling is probably worth more than I ever owned, but compared to my bed, this is garbage. Strange set of priorities. 


The New Palace, built around the same time.


And the Chinese House, a fine example of “Chinoiserie”, at a time when all things fashionable were inspired by China, unlike today, when all things fashionable are made in China.


Potsdam touches the limits of Berlin, but is an independent town with a population of about 160,000. A former walled city founded in 993, it still has a number of old gates, some of which look strangely recent, despite being centuries old.


The neighbourhood known a “Little Netherlands”.

Away from the centre of town, there is a large, 114 hectare park called Babelsberg. We walked around it for a long time in sweltering heat, cursing ourself fot not bringing swimming gear, as we looked at all the locals jumping in the water. In our defence, it was far less warm and even a little rainy when we left Berlin.


There you will find anything from a squatter’s house.


To this strange steam powered pump station, designed in the shape of a mosque on the whims of some aristocrat of the time.

In terms of tourism, Potsdam is a lot like Versailles; a city of Royal palaces a short rain ride away from one of Europe’s largest capitals. Absolutely worthy of a day trip if you like elaborate gardens and over-decorated interiors.


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