Tourist’s guide to Potsdam and its rich history

Potsdam (Germany) is a city in the eastern part of the state, 20 km southwest of Berlin. It has the status of the capital of the federal state of Brandenburg, while being an extra-district city. Potsdam is located on the banks of the Havel River, on a plain with numerous lakes.

Potsdam view

The area of ​​the city is almost 190 km², and about ¾ of the entire territory is occupied by green spaces. The population living here is close to 172,000 people.

Potsdam underwent an amazing transformation from a small Slavic settlement, the first mention of which dates back to 993, to the city, which was appointed royal residence in 1660.

Modern Potsdam is one of the most picturesque cities in Germany, and its architecture occupies a standout even across Europe. Since 1990, the entire cultural urban landscape has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Interesting fact! After the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, Potsdam, located in the southwest of Berlin and part of the German Democratic Republic, found itself on the very border with Germany. As a result, the travel time from Potsdam to the capital of the GDR doubled. After the collapse of the Wall and the unification of the German Democratic Republic with West Germany (1990), Potsdam became the capital of the Brandenburg lands.

Tourist area

Top Attractions

Due to the fact that Potsdam is practically a suburb of Berlin, many tourists who come to the capital of Germany visit it with one-day visits. Travelers who try to see the sights of Potsdam in one day will enjoy a rich and varied excursion program.

Interesting fact! In this city is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world, producing films since 1912 – Babelsberg. Here, paintings were created in which the great Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo were shot. The studio is working now, and to observe some processes, for example, creating special effects, visitors are sometimes allowed.

Palace and park complex Sanssouci
Palace and park complex Sanssouci

Sanssouci has the well-deserved fame of Germany’s most beautiful and refined place. This UNESCO-protected facility is spread over a vast, undulating, low-lying area of ​​300 hectares. The park has many unique attractions:

  • picturesque terrace with vineyards
  • Germany’s first gallery museum with paintings only
  • Antique temple
  • Friendship Temple
  • Roman baths.

But the most significant building located in the Sanssouci park complex is the palace, the former residence of the kings of Prussia.

Find out all the details about Sanssouci from this article .

Interesting fact! Every year, the most popular German festival Potsdamer Schlössernacht is held at the Sanssouci Palace. The program includes concerts of symphonic music, literary meetings and theater performances with the participation of the best artists of the world. The number of tickets for the holiday is always limited, so you need to take care of their purchase in advance.

New palace
New palace

In the western side of the Sanssouci park complex is another unique attraction of Potsdam and Germany. This is a Baroque ensemble: the magnificent Neues Palais building, communes and the triumphal arch with a colonnade. Frederick the Great began the construction of the palace in 1763 to show the world the indestructible strength and wealth of Prussia. Enough for 7 years, and all work was completed.

The new palace is a long (200 m) three-story building, which seems even higher thanks to the dome located in the center of the roof. The 55 m high dome is adorned with three graces holding a crown. In total, 267 statues were used to decorate the building, most of which are on the roof. Heinrich Heine’s joke is even known: the poet said that on the roof of the famous building of the city of Potsdam there are much more people than inside.

Since the Neues Palais was used by Frederick the Great exclusively for work and for settling distinguished guests, most of the internal premises are separate apartments and halls for ceremonies. Halls and cabinets are decorated with paintings by European authors of the XVI-XVIII centuries. There is also such a landmark as the exhibition “Potsdam Gallery”, which tells about the history of the palace from the moment of its appearance to the present day.

Marble Hall

The 18th century court theater occupies two floors of the southern wing with an interior designed in a red and white palette with gilding and stucco molding. There is no royal box in the theater, as Frederick the Great preferred to sit in the hall, in the third row. Now on the stage of the theater periodically give performances for the audience.

The communes played the role of farm buildings and at the same time closed the view of the unattractive swamps on the western side of the park. Today in the communes is a pedagogical university.

Attraction address: Neuen Palais, 14469 Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany.

Visits are possible in April-October from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and in November-March from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Every Monday is a day off, and at the peak of the influx of tourists, access is also limited on Tuesdays (pre-planned group tours are held).

  • The cost of a standard ticket is 8 €, preferential – 6 €.
  • To see all the sights of the famous Sanssouci complex in the city of Potsdam in Germany, it’s more profitable to buy a ticket “Sanssouci +” – full and discounted costs 19 € and 14 €, respectively.
Tsitsilienhof
Tsitsilienhof in Potsdam

Potsdam’s next famous attraction is the Schloss Cecilienhof. This is the last castle built by the Hohenzollern family: in 1913-1917 it was built for Prince William and his wife Cecilia.

Trying to visually hide the huge size of the castle, which had 176 rooms, the architect talentedly grouped individual buildings around 5 courtyards. 55 chimneys rise above the roof of the building, some of which are functioning, and some are just decorative elements. All chimneys are completely different! The center of the castle is a huge hall from which a spacious carved wooden staircase leads to the second floor, to the private quarters of the noble couple.

Interesting fact! In the summer of 1945, it was at the Schloss Cecilienhof that the Potsdam Conference was held, at which the leaders of the victorious powers in World War II Truman, Churchill and Stalin met. The Potsdam agreement, adopted by the Big Three, marked the beginning of a new order in Germany: very soon the country was divided into East Germany and Germany, and the city of Potsdam remained on the Eastern Territory, as part of the GDR.

In a small part of the castle of Cecilienhof, the Museum of the Potsdam Conference now operates. The premises where the summit took place were preserved unchanged, as before, there is a huge round table made at the Soviet factory “Lux” specifically for this event. And in the courtyard, in front of the main entrance, there is an equally well-groomed flowerbed laid out in 1945 in the shape of a five-pointed red star.

Hall in Tsitsilienhof

Most of Cecilienhof’s premises are at the disposal of the 4 * Relexa Schlosshotel Cecilienhof.

Attraction address: Im Neuen Garten 11, 14469 Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday on a schedule:

  • April-October – from 10:00 to 17:30;
  • November-March – from 10:00 to 16:30.

Cost of visit:

  • a walk through the adjacent garden;
  • Museum of the Potsdam Conference – 8 € full, 6 € preferential;
  • Excursion to the private rooms of the prince and his wife – 6 € full and 5 € preferential.

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Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate

In 1770, in honor of the end of the Seven Years’ War, King Frederick II the Great ordered the construction of the Triumphal Gate, called the Brandenburg Gate, in Potsdam.

The prototype of the building was the Roman Arc de Triomphe of Constantine. But still Brandenburg Gate have one feature: different facades. The fact is that two architects – Karl von Gontard and Georg Christian Unger – were engaged in designing and each one made its “own” facade.

Attraction address: Luisenplatz, 14467 Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany.

Dutch quarter

In the years 1733-1740, 134 houses were built in Potsdam for Dutch artisans who came to Germany to work. The houses formed a whole block (Holländisches Viertel), divided by two streets into 4 blocks. The same type of pointed red brick houses, original gutters and portals – this architecture of the Dutch quarter with expressive national color distinguishes it from the rest of Potsdam.

Dutch quarter

Holländisches Viertel with its central street Mittelstraße has long turned into a kind of tourist “highlight” of the modern city. Cute houses have fashion boutiques, antique shops, souvenir shops, art galleries, excellent restaurants and cozy cafes. At Mittelstraße 8, there is the Holländisches Viertel exhibition, where you can see three-dimensional models of the buildings of the quarter, household items of the local population.

And no descriptions and even photos of this attraction of Potsdam do not convey all its flavor and atmosphere. That is why tourists who come to see the German city are in a hurry to visit here.

Barberini Museum

In early 2017, in Potsdam, in a beautiful three-story building with a white sandstone facade, a new museum was opened – Museum Barberini. The Barberini Museum was built by the philanthropist Hasso Plattner, and the name is given in honor of the Barberini Palace destroyed in World War II. So you can now see one more attraction in Potsdam.

Interesting! Immediately after the opening, Barberini took the place of leader in the top 10 museum discoveries of the year according to the Guardian.

The basis of the exposition of the new art gallery are paintings from the private collection of Hasso Platner:

  • works of impressionists and modernists;
  • works representing post-war art and later art of the GDR;
  • paintings by contemporary artists created after 1989.
Barberini Museum

Temporary exhibitions are located on two of the three floors – they are replaced three times a year. On the official website https://www.museum-barberini.com/ you can always see what temporary expositions the museum shows on specific dates.

  • Attraction address: Humboldtstrasse 5-6, 14467 Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany.
  • Visitors are expected from 10:00 to 19:00 on any day of the week, except Tuesday. Every first Thursday of the month the expositions are open from 10:00 to 21:00.
  • Children under 18 are admitted to the museum for free. Entrance fees for adults and beneficiaries are 14 € and 10 € respectively. During the last hour of work, an evening ticket is relevant, the total cost of which is 8 €, preferential 6 €.
Northern Belvedere

The Belvedere on Mount Pfingstberg, in the northern part of the city, away from the center, is also a noteworthy attraction. The exterior of the complex (1863) is magnificent: it is a luxurious villa of the Italian Renaissance with powerful double towers and a huge colonnade.

Northern Belvedere

Belvedere Pfingstberg has long remained a popular holiday destination of the time until, in 1961, the 155-meter Berlin Wall was built, reliably separating the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. Since then, the belvedere, which remained with Potsdam in the GDR, has been under constant protection: it was a strategically important point from where it was possible to get to the neighboring capitalist country. Like many historical sites on the territory of the GDR, the belvedere gradually fell into disrepair and collapsed. Only in the mid-1990s, after the unification of the GDR with the FRG, the beloved place of many citizens was restored.

There is an observation deck on the belvedere tower, which offers a stunning circular panorama. In good weather, not only the whole of Potsdam is visible from there, but also Berlin, at least the famous metropolitan attraction – the TV tower.

The Northern Belvedere can be found at: Neuer Garten, 14469 Potsdam, Germany.

Northern Belvedere inside

Opening hours:

  • in April-October – daily from 10:00 to 18:00;
  • in March and November – from 10:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Prices are as follows (in euros):

  • ticket for adults – 4.50;
  • preferential ticket (unemployed, students under 30, etc.) – 3.50;
  • children aged 6 to 16 years – 2;
  • children under 6 years old – admission is free;
  • family ticket (2 adults, 3 children) – 12;
  • audio guide – 1.

Affordable Housing Options in Potsdam

Booking.com offers reservations at over 120 Potsdam hotels, as well as numerous private apartments. Moreover, almost all hotels in this city belong to the level of 3 * and 4 *. Using various convenient filters, you can always choose the most optimal option, and reviews of tourists will help you make the right choice.

Hotel in Potsdam

In 3 * hotels, double rooms can be found for both 75 € and 135 € per day. At the same time, average prices range from 90 to 105 €.

A double room in a 4 * hotel can be rented for 75 – 145 € per day. As for the most common figures, it is 135 – 140 € per room.

A comfortable one-bedroom apartment in Potsdam (Germany) can be rented on average for 90 – 110 € per day.

How to get from Berlin

Consider how best to get from Potsdam to Berlin.

Trains from Berlin

Potsdam is actually a suburb of the German capital, and these cities are connected by a network of suburban S-Bahn trains. The station where trains arrive in Potsdam is Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, and you can leave the capital from almost any S-Bahn station and from the Friedrichstraße central station.

Electric trains run around the clock with an interval of approximately 10 minutes. It takes 40 minutes to reach your destination from Friedrichstraße.

Ticket price is 3.40 €. You can buy it in vending machines at the stations, you also need to punch it there. Since Potsdam is included in the transport zone of the German capital, travel to it is free with the Berlin Welcome Card .

Berlin Welcome Card

From the capital station Friedrichstrasse to Potsdam, regional trains RE and RB also run (lines RE1 and RB21 are suitable for this direction). The train ride takes a little less time (about a half hour), and the fare is the same. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or on the Rail Europe website, which specializes in train routes in Europe.

Important! You can see how to get from Berlin to Potsdam by train or train, when the train closest in time leaves from a particular station, you can check any information of interest on the online travel planner for the railway network in Berlin: https://sbahn.berlin/en/ .

All prices on the page are for August 2019.

A trip from Berlin to Potsdam – video.


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