Sanssouci and the New palace – the glory of Prussia

Many of the architectural wonders around Europe are work of great rulers who wanted to leave behind monuments, an expression of their power, wealth, sense of aesthetic pursuits. This is also the case with Frederick II /1712-1786/, called Frederick the Great. The king who was restained in character managed to relax only during the famous dinners he organized with friends at his residence in Potsdam – the Sanssouci Palace. He was surrounded by a group of educated people, mainly French philosophers and writers, among them Voltaire, Jean Leron D’Alembert, La Mettrie, Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis.

rsz_shutterstock_752051311Description: Sanssouci palace /source of the picture:;

In the palace of Sanssouci, Frederick the Great found refuge, away from the noise of palace life. There he has the opportunity to indulge in his two passions – music and philosophy. The palace was designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 to satisfy King Frederick’s need for a private residence where he could relax from the pomp and ceremonious of the Berlin court. The name of the palace emphasizes this; it is a French phrase (sans souci) that translates to “without worry” or “carefree”, symbolizing that the palace is a place of relaxation, not a seat of power.

shutterstock_127876358Description: the Orangery /source of the picture:;

Sanssouci is not a large palace complex. On the contrary, it is actually a large single-storey villa with only 12 main rooms. It was built in the Rococo style. The influence of king Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace is so palpable that the style has often been referred to as “Frederician Rococo”. The king’s feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived of it as a place that “would perish without him”. The palace rises on a terraced hill in the center of the surrounding park. The original architect, Knobelsdorff, was fired because of his disagreement with the location of the palace in the park. Dutch architect Jan Bouman completed the project.


shutterstock_518002921Description: the Chinese house /source of the picture:;

King Frederick was passionate about the history of ancient Rome. It was from there, and more specifically from Emperor Virgil’s passion for growing vineyards, that he drew inspiration for the creation of the Sanssouci Park. Undoubtedly, one of the most impressive features of the palace are the undulating terraces with vines that cascade down the hill. His “little house among the vines”, as Frederick himself called his palace, was conceived and realized as a symbol of the harmony between man and nature.

The park of Sanssouci extends on both sides along the slope of the hill on top of which the palace rises. The Cherry Garden is located on the western side of the slope, and the Picture Garden is located on the eastern side. The dividing walls, which are covered with shells, lead down to the so-called Dutch Garden, decorated with glass ornaments and Dutch vases. A semi-circular archway leads to a trellis terrace – another secluded garden that carries the spirit of Friedrich – Neptune’s Grotto with the nymphs and tritons. In creating the individual gardens, Frederick planned beautiful water attractions, but there was never enough water for most of these cascades. To the north of the center of the park stretches the Sicilian Garden, created after 1856. Opposite it is the North Garden, which is planted with conifers. Its construction was completed before 1860. Both were the work of Peter Josef Lehne. The Chinese House is impressive and one of the great attractions of the park – in essence it is a pleasant little rotunda with an overhanging roof supported by gilded palm stems around which are grouped gilded Chinese figures drinking tea. Figures are life size.

shutterstock_460944208Description: the New Palace /source of the picture:;

Twenty years after the construction of Sanssouci, Frederick built the New Palace (Neues Palais) in the western part of the park. This far larger palace was in direct contrast to the calm spirit of Sanssouci and demonstrated Frederick’s power. The design of the “New Palace” was intended to show that Prussia’s capabilities had not diminished despite the recent defeat in the Seven Years’ War. The creation of the “New Palace” evoked associations with the French Versailles, and Sanssouci was assigned the role of a trianon. This analogy, while easy to understand, ignores the original merits of the concept behind Sansoussi’s creation. Unlike the tianon, Sanssouci was not intended as an escape from the greater palace, for the simple reason that the greater palace did not exist at the time of Sanssouci’s creation. What’s more, after its construction, king Frederick rarely stayed there, usually when he had meetings with diplomats he wanted to impress.


shutterstock_605186213Description: part from the interior of the New Palace /source of the picture:;

The most notable halls in the New Palace are the Marble Hall and the Shell Hall. The design of the Marble Hall was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The walls are marble, supported by large Corinthian columns. The hall is crowned by a round dome. Other notable rooms also include the rich Concert Hall and the library, where Frederic kept his collection of some two thousand books, most of them in French.

Tickets and opening itmes

You can find up-to-date information about the opening hours of the palaces and other places, located on the territory of Sanssouci Park on the official website.

In case you plan to visit more than one palace, we recommend you to buy a combined ticket SANSSOUCI+, which includes all the palaces in the territory of Potsdam, including Sanssouci, the New Palace, the Cecilienhof, the Marble Palace, etc. With this ticket you also get a discount at the Musée Barberini art museum, containing the richest collection of Claude Monet paintings outside of France.

How to reach Sanssouci park?

To get to Sanssouci, you can catch one of the regional trains (RE 1 or RB 23) from one of the main stations in Berlin – Berlin Hauptbahnhof or Bahnhof Berlin Friedrichstraße. We recommend that you get off at the Potsdam Park Sanssouci stop, as it is a few minutes’ walk from Sanssouci Park and more specifically from the New Palace. However, note that not every regional train stops at this stop. Some trains only stop at Potsdam Central Station, so check carefully the route of the train you plan to catch. You can do this easily on the website of the national railway carrier “Deutsche Bahn”:

Potsdam Central Station can also be reached by S-Bahn (S 7) from Berlin Central Station. However, with this type of transport, there are more stops and more travel time. More information can be found on the S Bahn Berlin website.

Note that Potsdam is in Berlin’s transport zone C and you will need to buy a ticket specifically for it, the price of which as of May 2024 is €4.40. If you plan to stay in Berlin for about a week, we recommend that you buy a weekly ticket for zones A, B and C, which also covers travel to Potsdam, including public transport in the city itself.

You can see more picture from the palaces and the park in our gallery: