Sanssouci, Potsdam - The Traveller


Friday, May 27, 2016

Sanssouci, Potsdam


Sanssouci – Former Summer Palace of King Frederick

Sanssouci, earlier summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam near Berlin is considered among the German rivals of Versailles. Sanssouci though it is more close to Rococo style, is quite smaller than its French Baroque counterpart. It is also famous for the various temples and follies in the park. The palace is said to be designed by George Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff from 1745 and 1747 in order to fulfil the need of a private residence of King Frederick where he could relax from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court.

The name of the palace sans souci is a French phrase which translates as `without concerns, which means without worries or carefree. It symbolises that the palace was a place to relax rather than a seat of power. Sanssouci is a bit more than a big single story villa more like the Chateau de Marly than Versailles. With just ten principal rooms, it had been built on the top of a terraced hill towards the centre of the park and the effect of the personal taste of King Frederick in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that the style had been branded as `Frederician Rococo’ and his feeling for the palace had been so strong that he regarded it as a place which would die with him.

Slopes of Castle Utilised as Flower/Vegetable Gardens

Due to the disagreement regarding the site of the palace in the park, Knobelsdorff had been fired in 1746 and a Dutch architect, Jan Houman had completed the project. Frederick the Great, desired to cultivate plums, figs and wine on the doorstep of Potsdam and in 1744, he had a terraced garden designed in Sanssouci Park for the same. However, owing to the extremely beautiful view he decided on a large summer residence above the terraces a year later.

Besides this, the new palace and the picture gallery had been built in subsequent years where the slopes of the castle had been utilised as flower and vegetable gardens. Presently, one will also find the tomb of Frederick II, on the castle hill. With the pile of ruins towards the north of the castle, artificial segments of ruins had been grouped into a staffage of the art of the ancient world that had hidden a water basin at the same time and the fountains in the park received their supply of water from this basin.

Breath-taking Backdrop for Events

The king was fond of the lavish waterworks which he could enjoy only in the end since the system functioned properly only after the construction of the steam engine building in the 19th century. In the meanwhile, the baroque garden that had gone out of fashion had been redesigned in the style of the landscape park under the successors of Frederick the Great and then expanded by Frederick William IV.

 These were done by structures like Charlottenhof Castle, the orangery and the Roman Baths which were to bring part of Italy to his native country for his sake. The castles of Sanssouci Park are considered to be a breath-taking backdrop for events like the Potsdam court concerts or the musical festivals.

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