Saturday, 15 August 2015

Day 1 Berlin

Today I ventured to Potsdam about 1 hour train ride from Berlin. It is an extremely hot day here in the heat wave that is melting Europe. Today I think was about 40oC. I am very proud of myself managing the trains to get to Potsdam I had to change trains at various stations and get on other lines three times to make my way to Sanssouci.

Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg and borders Berlin. The town has population of approx. 159,000. It is widely known for its castles and landscape as a World Heritage Site. Potsdam is more than 1000 years old. Many historic buildings are under re-construction after World War II and the period of the GDR.

I started the day with a 3 hour walking tour through Sanssouci Park. I entered the Marly garden and headed in the direction of the large fountain to climb the stairs of the terraced hills up to Sanssouci Palace Frederick the Great wanted to cultivate plums, figs and wine on Potsdam’s doorstep. In 1744, he had a terraced garden designed in Sanssouci Park for this reason. But, due to the exceptionally beautiful view,  the idea crossed the king’s mind of a large summer residence above the terraces just a year later. On the pile of ruins to the north of the castle, artificial sections of ruins were grouped into a staffage of the art of the ancient world, which concealed a water basin at the same time. Fountains in the park were to be supplied with water from this. The king was attached above all to the lavish waterworks, which he could only enjoy once in the end, as the system only worked properly after the construction of the steam engine building in the 19th century. The baroque garden, which had gone out of fashion in the meantime, was redesigned in the style of a landscape park under Frederick the Great’s successors and was expanded by Frederick William IV by structures such as Charlottenhof Castle, the orangery and the Roman Baths. They were to bring part of Italy to his native country for him.

Heading west toward the New Chambers beside the New Palace, the New Chambers fulfilled the purpose of a guest palace for the King´s distinguished visitors, which had to be exclusively received and accommodated, according to Frederick II. The New Chambers were therefore laid out to fit four ceremonial halls and seven private suites ("Kavalierszimmer"). In terms of the interiors and décor, King Frederick´s building masters implemented the late style of Frederican Rococo, creating impressive compositions and elaborate embellishments, ranging from jewel and gold applications.

Behind the New Chambers is the historical windmill.

Looking back at the Palace.

Via the Sicilian and Nordic Garden you arrive at the hill on which the Orangery Built in the style of the High Renaissance and commissioned by King Frederick William IV, the Orangery palace was conceived as the high point of a so-called "Road of Triumph" leading up to the Belvedere on Klausberg. The road, however, had never been completely implemented. The Palace includes royal halls with marble statues, servants´ lodging and two halls to accommodate potted plants beneath a greenish roof.

Heading then further south, I reached the New Palace Erected under King Frederick II at the western end of Sanssouci Park, the New Palace is the largest and most impressive palace ensemble in Sanssouci. The Palace gained prominence for its majestic interiors featuring the Marble Hall (Marmorsaal), Grotto Hall (Grottensaal), the Concert Room (Konzertzimmer) and an own Palace Theatre.

From here I went to see the "Freundschaftstempel" (temple of friendship).

Taking the theatre I found Charlottenhof Palace, a small neo-classical palace, forming the architectural centre of a park, which was later added to the 18th-century Sanssouci gardens in 1826. That year Frederick William IV, who was quite fond of art, assigned architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel with the remodelling of his farm house into a neo-classical summer residence. Schinkel´s one-storey building was adorned with an English garden, an ideal retreat for the King's wife.

This route leads south to the luxuriant Chinese Tea House in the Rehgarten of Sanssouci Park impressively illustrates the Chinese Fashion that starkly influenced the royal culture in all of Europe in the 18th century. Life-sized golden figures, either presented as single figures, or arranged in groups around the Tea House, determine the exterior impression of the pavilion. Displayed are fairytale-like Chinese musicians, tea-drinking men and women whose exotic character blends in well with the columns in the shape of golden palm trees.

I then headed back past the Sanssouci  Palaco start my city walking tour another 2 hour walk through Potsdam's historic town centre.

Starting in the square in front of the Brandenburg Gate located on the west end of Brandenburg Street. The gate, which resembles a Roman triumphal arch, had two architects and thus also two styles. Karl of Gontard designed the part of the gate facing the city on behalf of Frederick II. His disciple Georg Christian Unger designed the part of the gate facing the fields. In 1770, the gate was completed.

Continuing on Schopenhauer Straße, leading  to the Haus "Im Güldenen Arm" Built in the baroque style that dominated during the reign of Frederick William I, the museum has accommodated a permanent exhibition on the town´s civil development.

Strolling along the promenade of Hegelallee I reached the gate "Jägertor".  The Jägertor from 1733 is the oldest surviving Potsdamer Gate . It forms one of the city exits to the north. It was named after the city ahead of the electoral Jägerhof. The gate was originally part of the Potsdam city walls, the excise wall that did not serve the attachment, but should prevent the desertion of the soldiers and the smuggling of goods. After demolition of the city walls in 1869, the Jägertor presents itself as a pillar architecture Tuscan order with straight entablature and crowning sculptural group. Showing hounds deer, and flanking the flaming grenade. This illustrates the military purpose of the gate. Architrave and crown made of sandstone, while the rusticated piers were built of plastered brickwork.

Shortly after the "Nauener Tor" adjacent to the Dutch Quarter, is one of Potsdam´s central meeting places. The square extending from the gate is used as a market offering fresh produce and delicacies twice a week. The gate, which lends the square its name, is assumed to be the earliest example of architecture modelled on the English neo-Gothic style on the European continent. In the year 1755, King Frederick II delivered his sketch for the gate to the master builder and architect Gottfried Büring.

From here I entered Mittelstraße, which brought me to the Dutch Quarter full of mall shops, cafés and bars. For the extension of the garrison town, the soldier king Frederick William I urgently needed qualified craftsmen. He struck it lucky in the neighbouring country and, so that the Dutchmen should feel at home in Potsdam, he had 130 brick houses built in this part of town in the middle of the 18th century and even today there is a lively atmosphere in it.

The St Peter and Paul Church

I then walked to the reconstructed City Canal.

My next discovey was the old palace's Marstall (former royal stables) The building formerly used to accommodate the royal carriages and horses ("Kutschstall") in Potsdam´s historic centre, today’s House of the Brandenburg-Prussian History, provides a living forum for history and culture with its standing exhibition on 900 years of Brandenburg-Prussia. , today accommodating the Film museum in Potsdam.

Next to the Church of St. Nicholas and the Alte Rathaus (old townhall) The pre-blinded plastic pillars architecture and the larger than life statue of jewellery on the final attic floor of the city hall awarded a prestigious appearance to the model of Italian palace façades. The towering circular temple architecture of the main cylinder, which was temporarily used as a prison, carries on the step-like stone dome the Statue of Atlas, a building detail that was put out of his own experience on the model of the Amsterdam city hall of the king.

The Alter Markt (old market) at the heart of Potsdam was designed by Frederick the Great in the mid-18th century in Havel near a Roman court. The Roman flair underlines also the 1753 built and 1979 altered Mamorobelisk. After only four buildings of the historical ensemble had survived the bomb night of 14 April 1945 1959/60 the worth preserving ruins of the City Palace were demolished. After the reconstruction of the Fortuna portal in 2002 here was the new parliament building.

No comments: