Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

Sanssouci was commissioned by Frederick The Great of Prussia and built between 1745 and 1747. “A crown is just a hat that lets the rain in” he once said!  He had modest tastes and wanted a place he could retreat to, far away from the pomp and grandeur of the Berlin Court.

The inscription above the entrance reads “Sans Souci” from the French “without a care” or “carefree”, as we would say in English. Frederick, as we learnt on our tour around, liked to come here and ponder affairs of state in solitude often (apart from servants) with only his dogs for company. For some reason the palace always seems to be referred to as Sanssouci in all the guide books so I’ll leave it as one word here to avoid any confusion. The Evolving Scientist has written about this conundrum too and included some lovely photos of his own tour round the palace here.

 

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Sanssouci Palace Potsdam – Inscription “Sans Souci” without a care

 

Originally the grounds had been planted on Frederick’s orders with terraces containing vines and fruit trees. He later decided that the setting would be the perfect place in which to build his summer palace. The entrance to the tour starts around the other side of the palace from the terraces, but to get a better perspective, head round to the “back” to get the view down over the gardens. If you’ve walked in from the town centre, like we did, you’ll also get a wonderful view looking up from the Sanssouci grounds to the palace at the top of the hill. I’ve mixed up some photos from both our first visit to Sanssouci in 2013 and our most recent, last year, as the weather was considerably sunnier the first time around!

 

 

Entry is by pre-arranged time slots – you can buy tickets on the day without any problem but you may have to kill some time before going in, especially if there is a big tour group going round before you. With an hour or so to wait we checked out the souvenir shops and headed up to the Historic Mill (Historische Muehle) where we found a small bar/cafe in the grounds. The service was rather slow though I was able to practise my German with a lovely (and patient!) couple from Munich who shared our table! The Mill has an interesting history dating back to Frederick the Great’s time. Unlike most of the Sanssouci Park area, the original mill was destroyed in a stoush between German and Soviet troops at the end of the 2nd World War and has been rebuilt as close to the original building as possible.

 

 

 

We duly arrived back at the palace entrance well in time for our tour slot. Sanssouci has been likened to Versailles on a much smaller scale. If you can call a palace cosy and intimate this would be the one. With only 10 principal rooms it has the feel of a country villa, which is really what Frederick envisaged. Designed to overlook the terraced gardens and vines, the style emphasised the connection between man and nature “Frederician Rococo”. Having been to Versailles many years ago and more recently the lavish Schoenbrunn, Sanssouci felt more warm and inviting.

 

 

The bedrooms were for the most part surprisingly plain – still ornate by modern standards of course but not as ostentatious or over the top as one might expect. They had a sort of whimsical charm. Of course much of the furniture has been added later to reproduce the style of Frederick’s day. Most of the original artworks were removed for safekeeping during the 2nd World War and many have “dispersed” elsewhere.

 

 

There was still plenty of marble around the place though and neoclassical statues on display. I obviously had a fascination with the chandeliers too, as I seem to have taken plenty of photos of them! The Marmorsaal (Marble Hall) was the principal reception area and is decorated in white and gold with a dome crowned by a cupola.

 

 

Frederick, despite his liking for solitude, still entertained widely. Voltaire, the French philosopher, was a regular visitor during his stay in Potsdam between 1750 and 1753. The guest room that he usually stayed in is far more intricately decorated than the other bedrooms with yellow lacquered walls and ornate wood carvings of animals, flowers and birds. It has subsequently become known as the Voltaire Room or alternatively the Flower Room.

 

 

I preferred the simpler style of the blue and white porcelain though the ornate floral ones were very pretty in their own way!

 

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Porcelain Collection Sanssouci

 

On our first visit to Potsdam we did the Original Berlin Walks “Discover Potsdam” Tour and hadn’t got enough time left to tour round the palace itself (not included in the tour price).  It was therefore a priority on our last visit to make amends. Although a hugely popular tourist destination, the palace complex is sufficiently well organised to run like clockwork. Sanssouci transports you to a bygone era and certainly makes you feel that you have no cares! There is still so much more to explore in the Sanssouci area – more to follow next week!

 

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Sanssouci Palace

 

Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

21 thoughts on “Sanssouci – The Summer Palace

  1. Denzil says:

    Impressive place. The terraces are interesting. Are they planted with flowers? They look quite empty at the moment of your visits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks it is an impressive place though not as overwhelming as some of the larger palaces. The terraces are mainly planted with fruit trees and vines. We were there both visits end of April/beginning of May so guess they would be “showy” later in the summer!

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  2. restlessjo says:

    I love Frederick’s quote, Rosemay! 🙂 And his ‘modest’ palace looks a very pleasing place to spend time. I can just picture you sitting chatting in halting German. Lovely to be able to do so. 🙂 Have a happy weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was a gem of a quote Jo! Hadn’t come across that one before. Yes even a “modest” palace is rather grand!! The couple were so lovely – in fact the girlfriend couldn’t speak much English but they both humoured me and her boyfriend didn’t need to interpret too much for her! Just resumed my German classes after the long summer break so now getting 2 hours of practice every week! We talk in German for the whole time! Have a lovely weekend too! 🙂

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      1. restlessjo says:

        You’ll be getting quite proficient 🙂 We really ought to start Portuguese classes.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve persisted Jo and it’s starting to come together! Every so often you plateau and think you’re not learning anything anymore but if you push through it gets easier. Always so much to learn! I enjoy language classes though – they’re great fun! 🙂

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  3. poshbirdy says:

    Wow. That is a stonking palace and lovely pics. It started my Friday beautifully. Especially love the beds tucked in behind the curtains, they’re so cosy and it’s almost as if they were trying to save space (which they obviously weren’t short of!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear that! Sorry with the time difference now getting back on the blog now – we are 7 hours ahead at this time of the year! Yes I’m quite curious about the position of the beds too – I do remember on the audio guide it said something about hidden doors to the servants quarters so maybe that’s why they had them there so the servants could come in and out discretely as required. I may be wrong though! They look so small to me – hope they didn’t fall out of bed too often!

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  4. It looks like a beautiful place to explore Rosemary, loved the tour inside and out! Those ceilings are incredible and the grounds look stunning too. Love the picture of the chap playing the flute as well!

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    1. Yes it’s lovely place Joy and this is only a small part of the park – it extends far and wide in all directions! At one end is the Neues Palace (link here I hope http://www.potsdam-park-sanssouci.de/new-palais.html) which Frederick built later in his reign. The latter is far bigger but we didn’t have time to go round it on our visits. Sanssouci is far more “modest” as palaces go but is just such a beautiful place. We were taken with the flautist too especially as our daughter plays – was nice to walk round to the sound of the music. Hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just our sort of place Rosemary, thank you for the link, will be saving that!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The Neues Palais looks very impressive Joy – we only saw it at a distance though!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Anabel Marsh says:

    “Modest” tastes – I suppose it’s all relative! It does look lovely and I’m sorry we didn’t get there on our Berlin visit. Next time…….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes definitely relative Anabel! Sorry for late reply – had an internet outage for the past day you do realise how dependent you are on it when it’s not available! Yes head out to Potsdam if you can next time you’re in Berlin. Am sure you’d love it – what I’ve shown is only a small selection!

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  6. fifi + hop says:

    I like the sound of Frederick and his modest tastes..modest not by our standards, but I suppose back then! Looks beautiful and not as overwhelming as Versailles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I think it’s all relative! Sanssouci is still grand but in a far less overwhelming way than Versailles and I think what makes it so popular. It really feels quite “cosy” as far as palaces go – you get the feel of being in someone’s country retreat (albeit on rather a sumptuous scale!).

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    1. Thanks it’s a wonderful place to visit even if you only have time to stroll through the beautiful grounds!

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