Visiting Sanssouci Palace was as beautiful as the sound of its name. Although it was a drizzly day when I went, the splendor of this palace in Potsdam, East Germany was brilliant. I had specifically come to Potsdam from Berlin to visit Sanssouci, and was not disappointed.
Sanssouci Palace, which means “without worries” or “carefree”, was a perfect name since that is how I like to approach life. It was built between 1745 and 1747 for Prussian King Fredrick the Great. He needed a summer palace for his private residence where he could get away from the formalities of the royal court. Sanssouci became King Fredrick’s “carefree” palace that was “without worries”.
The design of Sanssouci Palace has often been remarked as one of German’s rival places of Versailles in France. Although it is smaller than the Palace of Versailles, the Rococo style of Sanssouci done in lovely pastel colors was both charming and beautiful to me. There were still many ornate features of this palace, but its intimacy did make it feel more carefree than the Palace of Versailles.
It was if King Fredrick invested his heart and soul into his beloved Sanssouci Palace, that he believed it was a place that would die with him. He added his own influence of personal taste to the interior design, and it was captivating for its time. It was later characterized as “Frederican Rococo”, which combined the styles of French, Germany (mostly Saxony), and the Netherlands.
King Fredrick was also known as “Fredrick the Great” or “Old Fritz” and had become king in 1740, as well as Elector of Bradenburg. He then became King of Prussia in 1770. During his reign, Fredrick was very tolerant towards immigrants. He was also open minded towards others with different religious beliefs, such as the the Hugenots and Catholics. Fredrick’s other great qualities during his rule was to expand the education system and abolishing torture. He lived by his philosophy that “Everyone should be saved according to his style.”
On August 17, 1786 King Fredrick passed away in his chair inside his beloved Sanssouci Palace. He was buried in the Potsdam Garrison Church against his wishes by his successor and nephew, Friedrich Wilhelm II. It was not until centuries later, and on his death date of August 17, 1991 King Fredrick was transferred and buried on the terrace of Sanssouci. That was the last will of the king and it was ultimately fulfilled, which to me was a lovely ending to Fredrick’s and Sanssouci Palace’s intriguing story.
20th Century East Germany – For those who are not up with the regions history of last century, the town of Postdam was part of East Germany from WWII until the fall of communism in 1989/ 1990. This meant that East Germany was part of the Soviet block for about 40 years during the cold war, and was closed off to most of the world. During those 40 years, Sanssouci Palace had become a tourist attraction in East Germany.
Shortly after the fall of communism and German reunification in 1990, Sanssouci Palace and its extraordinary gardens were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
For almost three centuries Sanssouci Palace had witnessed its share of history, and still holds its own today. I have been to a great number of palaces, stately homes, and castles throughout Europe, and Sanssouci was a favorite of mine in Germany. The beauty and charm of its intimacy, along with the lovely gardens did create a “carefree” atmosphere that I admired. If in Berlin, I suggest a visit to Potsdam and an absolute visit to King Fredrick’s “carefree” Sanssouci Palace.
For visitor information, please visit – Sanssouci Palace (Best of Potsdam)
Photos of Sansoucci Palace
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