UNESCO Heritage Site #105: Sanssouci and Charlottenburg Palaces

In 1745, Frederick, king of the emerging German state of Prussia, decided to build for himself a summer escape residence akin to those built by the French monarchs. However, unlike Versailles, Frederick eschewed palatial grand in favor of the charm of a vineyard villa. Over the next 40 years, this would become the place where Frederick would entertain his guests, artists and philosophers, amongst them the famous writer and philosopher Voltaire.

The name for the palace comes from the French term sans souci, which roughly translates into “carefree”. The brightly-painted yellow building only consists of ten rooms. Each of the bedrooms can be accessed separately through the doors leading out towards the terraced vineyards. Each of the rooms are decorated very differently, with some being ostentatiously Rococo, while others being significantly subdued. One of the highlights of the tour through the palace is the inventively painted Voltaire room. The famous writer had spent quite a bit of time in this bright, cheerful yellow room with carvings of plants and exotic animals.

While the focal point of the Sanssouci gardens are definitely the terraced vineyards leading up to the king’s residence, there are a lot of other interesting buildings sprinkled throughout the park. There’s a gallery housing impressive collection of European art, a comically European Oriental house, a Roman bathhouse with ruins, and many others. It would appear that Frederick built according to his folly to create spaces that would both entertain and relax him. Built for pleasure instead of business, it’s no surprise that the king spent his last days at Sanssouci. There is a grave only visible due to a simple plaque on the ground, not too far from the palace, celebrating the king who had arguably started the nation-building of Germany. It is always adorned by a few potatoes, as it was Frederick who introduced and popularized this crop in Germany.

Practicalities:

Transportation: Both palaces can be accessed quite easily using public transit.

Time: Depending on your curiousity and stamina, exploring the vast grounds of the palaces can easily take up to 5-6 hours. If you only want to the see the palace by itself, the tour of the rooms doesn’t take much more than 30-40 minutes.

Cost: The ticket for Sanssouci palace alone is 14 euros, and the combined ticket, including the entrance to other buildings in the park is 19 euros. The ticket for Charlottenburg palace alone is 9 euros, and the combined ticket, including the entrance to other buildings in the park is 12 euros.

Extras: If you are on a budget, the entrance to the parks is free, and most of the buildings can be enjoyed from the outside. It certainly makes a for a great picnic.

 

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