A man-made wonderland filled with magical palaces and breathtaking gardens, Sanssouci is often considered Berlin’s answer to Versailles. The palace was a private refuge for Frederik the Great, King of Prussia, who desired a break from the stressful royal court.
Located in Potsdam, just 26 kilometers southwest of Berlin, Sanssouci Palace is counted among the most important heritages of the Prussian monarchy. Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, ordered the construction of a private residence where he could retreat from the Berlin court and live sans souci (“without concern”, in the French spoken at the court). The palace was completed in 1745 after two years of construction and it became His Majesty’s sanctuary during difficult times.
While other edifices crumbled to dust as a result of wars and the DDR regime, Sanssouci remained intact. Miraculously, the government of East Germany even promoted it as a major tourist attraction. Since the German reunification in 1990, the palace and its expansive garden have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it attracts over two million visitors annually.
Expanding over 300 hectares, the Sanssouci complex is the largest World Heritage Site in Germany. It is often seen as a German rival of Versailles – France’s most opulent palace. But unlike Versailles which is the seat of power, Sanssouci Palace is designed as a place for relaxation. Hence, the palace itself is little more than a large, single-story villa that consists of twelve chambers.
The difference is more visible in the architectural style. While Versailles is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture and ecclesiastical decoration, Sanssouci Palace bears the marks of the intimate Rococo style. The light, almost whimsical style exactly suited the light-hearted uses for which King Frederik required for this palace.
Representing the harmony between nature and humans, Sanssouci Palace was built on top of terraced vineyards and embraced by a vast beautiful park. The park follows the horticultural theme of the terraced gardens, with greenhouses, nurseries, and over 3,000 fruit trees. Aside from the palace, there are many gorgeous buildings in this man-made wonderland. For instance, the gorgeous Orangery Palace for foreign royal guests. Or the exquisite Chinese Tea House with its ornate mix of rococo and chinoiserie. On the western end of the premise is the magnificent New Palace. It was built between 1763 and 1769 to celebrate the end of the Seven Year’s War.
Tips for visiting Sanssouci Palace
- Potsdam is easily accessible by public transport from central Berlin. It took around about 25 to 30 min with regional trains (S7) from Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Zoologischer Garten. Buying an extra ticket to Potsdam is unnecessary if you already possessed a day ticket that covers zones ABC.
- From Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, take bus 605, 695 or X15 to Sanssouci. A walk took around 15 to 20 minutes.
- Park Sanssouci is freely accessible, but you require tickets for the palaces. Admission to Sanssouci Palace is limited and by timed ticket only. Book online to choose your favourite time slot and avoid the queue at the box office. There is also a day fee for taking pictures inside the palaces (3€).
- A visit to Sanssouci might take half-a-day to a day because palaces are fairly scattered – the distance from New Palace to Sanssouci Palace is almost two kilometres.