Hi my lovely readers!
As you may know, or maybe not, I am originally from Berlin, Germany. I love my hometown, there is plenty to see and do in Berlin. However, if you ever plan to to travel to Berlin, make the time to go to Potsdam to visit all the sights that are situated in Sanssouci Park, especially the New Palace, which this post is about today.
I lived in Berlin for 20 years and cannot believe I never made the time and effort before to visit this amazing palace. It is such a hidden gem. Of course, I heard about it before, but never realised how special and unique it was.
Luckily, I discovered it this year in the summer when I visited my family back in August and I hope you will, too if and when you are around.
BRIEF HISTORY OF NEW PALACE
New Palace was commissioned by Frederick the Great, also know as Friedrich II in the 18th century. It served several functions.
It was a symbol of prestige, pomp and power as it was constructed after the Seven Years’ War from 1756 to 1763. Prussia wanted to display its power and send out a message to its enemies and neighbouring countries that they are a force and country to be taken serious.
The other purpose was to house the king’s guests and serve as an entertainment venue to hold opulent and elaborate banquets.
Friedrich II had apartments for his family and guests, but he himself actually preferred to stay in Sansscouci, the other smaller and more intimate palace just 15 min walk away from New Palace.
New Palace is most famous for its architecture and impressive galleries and banqueting halls, namely the Grottensaal (Grotto Hall) and Marmorgalerie (Marble Gallery). It was build in the Late Baroque style, although baroque was not in fashion anymore at that time.
The outside of the palace was painted to imitate an expensive red-brick façade to save money and the roof is decorated with a dome that only serves as decoration. It has absolutely no other function. Furthermore, just under 300 sculptures flank the palace.
New Palace is three-winged and has long suites of rooms, royal apartments and galleries, around 200 that are decorated in the Rococo style.
After the death of Friedrich II, his successor Wilhelm II used the palace as a summer residence and installed modern fittings, electric lighting, bathrooms and even in a lift.
With the fall of the monarchy in Germany in 1918 and the abdication of the Kaiser, Wilhelm II, New Palace became a museum, which it is up to this day.
The palace has been renovated and restored over the past years. But unfortunately, most of the interior furnishings are missing as they were looted by Soviet troops in 1945.
New Palace has hundreds of rooms, galleries and several halls. Only a few are open for visitors right now as many rooms are being restored at the moment including the Palace Theatre.
Good news though, the Grotto Hall and Marble Gallery are open to visitors once more and in my opinion they are the most impressive rooms of the palace.
The Grotto Hall was just so impressive, unique and the most beautiful room I have ever seen. You simply go WOW when you see it and your brain goes numb as there are no real words to describe it.
It opened its doors again back in 2015 after an extensive renovation. On top of the Grotto Hall sits the Marble Gallery, which is supported by wooden beams that were decaying.
There are no pillars in the middle of the hall to support the ceiling structure as Friedrich II wanted unobstructed views of the hall. Hence, it was feared that the ceiling would collapse at some point destroying the Grotto Hall as well as the Marble Gallery.
The Grotto Hall was the first room visitors entered. Friedrich II wanted to showcase his wealth through this room and impress his guests. It was also unusual to have a grotto inspired room indoors as they were mainly outdoor garden features. The Grotto Hall is decorated with over 24,000 seashells, fossils, gemstones and all sorts of different minerals.
The pictures I took do not do it justice at all. They only really give you a glimpse of what you can expect to see.
As already mentioned, the Marble Gallery sits on top of the Grotto Hall and was also restored and preserved. The floor is very delicate and visitors need to walk over a designated raised glass path to avoid damaging the marble. Imagine what the balls must have been like back in the days.
Not just the marble floor and walls are eye catching, but also the gold – framed ceiling. Just as the rest of the palace, it is designed in the Rococo style and plentiful decorated.
Galleries and Suites
The galleries and suites are richly decorated and the Rococo style can be examined in many furniture pieces, drawing frames and ceilings.
Rococo comes from the French rocaille and stands for rock and seashell-like formations. Rococo incorporates many natural motifs as part of the design such as marine decorations and the acanthus leaf and features asymmetry. Overall, Rococo is famous for being exceedingly ornamental and theatrical.
Visitor Center, Cafe and Shop
There is a separate visitor center with the shop on the opposite of New Palace where you can purchase your ticket, go to the toilet and find some souvenirs.
Close by, about 5 min walk you can find a small cafe where you can buy some refreshments and food. It is more like a mini restaurant I guess.
If you are going during Covid, you need to get your timed ticket for New Palace from the visitor center or book them online as visitor numbers are limited. If you have booked a SANSSOUCI+ TICKET and have an allocated time for entering Sanssouci Palace, you still need to get a separate timed ticket for New Palace. I would encourage everyone to book in advance online to avoid disappointment. Tickets are selling fast.
- Opening times: Summer season (Apr – Oct) Mo, Wed to Sunday 10 – 5.30 pm, closed on Tuesdays
- Admission: Adults 6 Euro, Concession 5 Euro, SANSSOUCI+ TICKET (Valid for a single visit to all the SPSG palaces in Potsdam for one day, incl. a fixed admission time slot for Sanssouci Palace) Adults 19 Euro, Concession 14 Euro
- For more information please visit: New Palace
- How to get there: By car – Neues Palais, Am Neuen Palais, 14469 Potsdam, Germany – paid parking available. By Train/Bus – The closest train station is S Potsdam Hauptbahnhof and then take the Bus 605 towards Wissenschaftpark Golm from in front the train station to Neues Palais.
FINAL THOUGHTS …
The New Palace in the gardens of Sanssouci is such an underrated tourist attraction. It has been on the doorsteps of my hometown and I am baffled it took me 30 years to see this outstanding and opulent palace.
If you come to Berlin, make the time to visit Sanssouci and especially the New Palace. They are two separate palace, but you can get a combination ticket to see both palaces and also the other attractions within the Sanssouci Park.
The interior of the palace is definitely different to what I am used to here in the UK and the Grotto Hall and Marble gallery are just out of this world and really impressive. I was lost for words.