Potsdam, the capital of the state of Brandenburg, is only half an hour or so’s train ride from the centre of Berlin. With its elegant imperial buildings, pretty cobbled streets and laid-back vibe, it is a highly popular attraction, especially at weekends.
We were introduced to this lovely city on my first trip to Berlin in 2013 when we took a day trip with Original Berlin Walks (their “Discover Potsdam” tour). A pleasant antidote to some of the rather dark history of Berlin, the UNESCO World Heritage City of Potsdam is steeped in history from an earlier age. It was the royal seat of the Hohenzollern rulers of Prussia and has become renowned for its splendid parks and gardens.
Sanssouci, the summer home of King Friedrich II (Frederick The Great of Prussia), is the best known and an absolute gem of a palace. Miraculously this area of Potsdam emerged relatively undamaged by the ravages of the Second World War and the Schloss Cecilienhof was the venue for the end of war Potsdam Conference between the Allied Powers. More to follow about both these attractions in later posts but before heading off to Sanssouci Park it is well worth taking a detour into the town centre.
The main street, Brandenburger Strasse, runs in a straight line from the church of St Peter and St Paul up to the impressive arch of the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) – not to be confused with the Brandenburg Gate in Pariser Platz Berlin. The Potsdam one was also commissioned by Frederick The Great towards the end of the Seven Years’ War in the style of a triumphal Roman arch.
Shops, cafes, street performers and markets all cater to visitors from far and wide and the centre has more than a touch of French ambience to it.
A good tip is to head off the main drag in search of refreshments. We found so many half empty bars and restaurants down the side streets as none of the tourists seem to have discovered them!
About 50 metres away from the busy Brandenburger Strasse, we discovered Brasserie Zu Gutenberg (their webpage is only in German but rest assured the staff all speak English!). Charming decor, a fantastic wine selection and delicious seasonal produce (including my favourite “Weiss Spargel” – white asparagus) made for an excellent lunch. We enjoyed the convivial atmosphere, a world away from the fast food outlets and overcrowded cafes we had seen on the main streets.
Just what we needed before setting off to explore further – more to follow!
For more inspiration for travels and especially strolls and walks head over to Restless Jo’s Monday Walk each week!
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