Hi my lovely readers!
The Palace of Sanssouci, translated into “without a care” was the summer residents and pleasure palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Sanssouci is located in Potsdam, a short drive or train ride away from Berlin and makes for a perfect day trip away from the city.
Sanssouci is located within Sanssouci Park and is one of the many attractions you can find in the park along with the Chinese Tea House, Orangery and many more including the famous New Palace, another grand palace, build to house the king’s guests and serve as an entertainment venue.
Although New Palace is bigger, more pompous and has the opulent Grotto Hall and Marble Gallery fit for a King, Sanssouci was Frederick’s favourite palace. It became his sanctuary and retreat, where he liked to spend most of his time away from the courts and just in the company of his favourite dogs.
The site of Sanssouci includes the Palace of Sanssouci, New Chambers as well as the Picture Gallery.
BRIEF HISTORY OF SANNSOUCI
The Palace of Sanssouci was built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 for Frederick the Great as his private residence. The King’s intention was to have a palace where he could come back to, relax and retreat from the crowds whenever he felt the need to. Sanssouci became Frederick’s sanctuary.
Although Sanssouci was Frederick the Great’s summer palace, it is much smaller than one would think and more on the modest side when it comes to palaces.
Sanssouci is only a single-story building with ten principal rooms built on the top of the terraced hill overlooking the park and vineyard. The King’s taste and love for the Rococo style is present throughout the palace and the original design and furnishings can still be admired today luckily.
I say luckily, because he King was reluctant to have minor repairs done on the palace. It was Frederick’s wish for Sanssouci to only last his lifetime and for his body to be buried in a crypt on the upper terrace of the vineyard close to where his beloved dogs were buried.
Initially his wish did not come true, although he died in Sanssouci aged 74, the chair in which he passed away in is on display in the palace. Though, in 1991 he was reburied on the highest terrace just as he wished.
After the death of Frederick the Great, the palace and its grounds remained unoccupied and neglected for around 100 years until the 19th century, when Sanssouci became the residence of Frederick William IV, the great-grand nephew of Frederick the Great, who enlarged and restored the palace and improved its grounds and views.
Sanssouci overall was one of the favourite palaces of the imperial families until the end of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918, the end of German monarchy.
Today, the Palace of Sanssouci and the extensive grounds are open to the public. Sanssouci became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 and is in the care of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg since 1995. This foundation looks after the former imperial palaces in and around Berlin.
The palace consists of a single-story main block with two wings flanking to the sides and a dome on the roof depicting the name of the palace. The side wings in contrast to the main block of the palace have two floors accommodating the servants and offered space for offices, the kitchen and the stables.
The rooms in the palace are aligned with each other, which is called enfilade in architectural terms. They all connect through doors with each other. When all the doors are open, the length of the palace can easily be established at a glance.
The entrance area has two halls, the Entrance Hall and the Marble Hall, a smaller version of the Marble Hall you can see in the New Palace. Both are situated in the centre of the palace and were used to welcome and assemble guests and the court. Of the halls are the more intimate rooms and the King’s chambers.
Throughout the palace, the Rococo style is present, which emerged in the early 18th century in France and is also referred to as late Baroque style. Rococo was Frederick’s favourite architectural style and is characterised by the use of lighter colours, opulence and the use of natural motifs.
Some of the rooms, including Frederick the Great’s bedroom and study were remodelled after his death and now feature the classicism style, which is rather clean and plain compared to the playful and opulent rococo style.
Frederick had two visitors, who had their own rooms named after them. These were the Count of Rothenburg and Voltaire.
The Voltaire Room was occupied by the philosopher when he came and stayed in Potsdam between 1750 and 1753. This room is famous for its sumptuous and over the top decorations – the yellow lacquered wall panel with wood carvings of apes, parrots, cranes, storks, fruits, flowers and garlands that gave the Voltaire Room the alternative name the Flower Room.
The Picture Gallery was built between 1755 – 1764 to house the art collection of Frederick the Great. It is one of the most magnificent 18th century buildings in Europe and the oldest surviving gallery building in Germany.
Paintings he collected included works from the Flemish and Dutch Baroque schools of painting, the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque period. Frederick also had sculptures and busts displayed from the French 18th century.
Today, over 140 paintings can be admired from the 16th – 18th centuries including those of world famous painters such as Anthony van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens and many others.
The interior of the Picture Gallery is just mind blowing. It is opulent with many gilded ornaments and floors made of yellow and white marble that compliment the paintings hanging on the walls and the sculptures.
The New Chambers were originally the orangery next to the Palace of Sannssouci. However, in 1768 Frederick the Great decided to have the orangery repurposed and converted it into a guest palace.
Again, from the outside the New Chambers look rather unremarkable with its simple appearance, but the inside paints a different picture.
Visitors are presented once they step inside with a succession of richly decorated banquet rooms and furnished suits.
One of the highlights is the Jasper Hall at the centre of the palace. This room is decorated with jasper, ancients busts and the ceiling painting depicting a scene with Venus.
VISITOR CENTER, CAFE AND SHOP
The Palace of Sanssouci, New Chambers and Picture Gallery are located close to the Historic Mill, where you can find toilet facilities and the visitor centre to buy your tickets for the palace as well as the other attractions located in Sanssouci Park.
There are a few restaurant next to the mill such as the Mövenpick Restaurant Zur Historischen Mühle and Weinstube, both offering food and refreshments.
Opposite the palace is also a small kiosk to buy bottled drinks, ice cream as well as a few souvenirs and postcards.
If you are going during Covid, you need to get your timed ticket for the Palace of Sanssouci from the visitor center or book your ticket online as visitor numbers are limited. If you have booked a SANSSOUCI+ TICKET and have an allocated time for entering the palace, you still need to get a separate timed ticket for the New Palace. I would encourage everyone to book in advance online to avoid disappointment. Tickets are selling fast.
- Opening times: Summer season (Apr – Oct) Tue to Sunday 9 – 5.30 pm, Winter season (Nov – Mar) 10 – 4.30 pm, closed on Monday
- Admission: Adults 14 Euro, Concession 10 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: Sanssouci
- How to get there: By car – Sanssouci Palace, Maulbeerallee, 14469 Potsdam, Germany – paid parking available t the Historic Windmill car park. By Train/Bus – The closest train station is S Potsdam Hauptbahnhof and then take the bus from in front the train station either Bus 614 towards Gutenpaaren to Potsdam, Schloss Sanssouci/Bornstedter Str or Bus 695 towards Neues Palais to Potsdam, Schloss Sanssouci.
FINAL THOUGHTS …
Sanssouci definitely is not your usual palace and a little on the smaller side compared to other palaces and the New Palace, located on the opposite side of Sanssouci Park.
Still, the interior is as impressive and opulent as any palace and showcases Frederick the Great’s love for the Rococo style and is beautifully decorated. Especially Voltaire’s Room seemed flamboyant and not your standard palace interior at all, which I thought was interesting.
Although the palace and New Chambers had beautiful interiors and were charming in their own way, it was the Picture Gallery that really impressed me.
I do not understand a thing about art, so the paintings were not what I came for, but the interior with the golden gilded ornaments, the gilded ceiling and the marble floor was just WOW.
If you come to Sanssouci Park, I would recommend buying a combination ticket as this allows you access to all the sights in the park, including New Palace and only costs an extra €5 per person, which is really good value for money considering how many attractions you can visit with this ticket.
Berlin, has plenty to offer and I love my hometown and rule for it, but a day trip to Sanssouci Park to see the Palace of Sanssouci and New Palace should be on everyone’s list of things to see and do in berlin really.
Would you want to go and visit Sanssouci?
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.