Why Haven’t You Visited Awesome Potsdam, Germany, Home of Frederick the Great??

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Potsdam is a lovely and quaint town. The shopping area feels like a movie set!

Why haven’t you visited awesome Potsdam when visiting Germany? Truthfully, I had never even considered it until I went on Elegant Elbe with Viking Cruises! I would certainly go again, it is so charming!

Potsdam is the capital city of the German state of Brandenburg. The town has a very long history, and if you want to learn about its very early days, there are plenty of great books available, particularly about the Hohenzollerns, the royal family. As you probably know, there are few things as complicated as royal family trees, so I am going to give a tiny bit of history, and try to be as simple as possible. As we know, in 1517, Martin Luther, a monk from Wittenburg, in the principality of Saxony, nailed 95 theses on the door of Castle Church, challenging the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. This event started an earthquake which spread across Europe called the Reformation. With the advent of Lutheranism, the Hohenzollerns split into two factions, one remaining Catholic, the other embracing religious freedom. In 1640, Frederick William of the House of Hohenzollern became the ruler of Brandenburg. He was eventually known as “The Great Elector”. On 29 October of 1685, Frederick William issued the Edict of Potsdam, announcing the policy of religious tolerance, extremely unusual at the time. He invited the persecuted protestants of France, known as Huguenots, to emigrate to Potsdam. Persecuted peoples from other nations, like Russia, Holland, and Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) also began to come into the town, making Potsdam a center of immigration and religious freedom. Potsdam grew from 1500 souls to 5000 during the next 50 years, making Potsdam a city with 2/3rds immigrants. By 1701, the Duke of Prussia and the Margrave of Brandenburg became known as the King in Prussia. (In case you don’t know, Germany was not a “country” until 1871, until that time it was a group of independently ruled principalities. Prussia became the largest and most influential).

The Church of St Peter and Paul watches over the town. It remains Catholic.

A quartet on the street.
Loved this lively musician!

Frederick William I, known as “the Soldier King”, made Potsdam the “Heart of the Military Monarchy”. Potsdam became a garrison of soldiers, the most famous and elite unit was Frederick William I’s Potsdam Giants. All Potsdam Giants had to be 6’2″ at the least! And he didn’t care if they were basically kidnapped, he wanted to breed a very tall race of Germans for battle. The next King of Prussia (which included Brandenburg) was Frederick II. The Germans love to give nicknames, and he became known as “Old Fritz”. He is best known as Frederick the Great. This was the time of the Enlightenment, and Frederick the Great moved the main residence of Prussia to Potsdam, and began to build castles. His favorite was Sanssouci (in French, “without worries”). He only occupied Sanssouci for about 3 weeks of the year, but it was the place he most loved, and he was buried there with his dogs! He did marry, but after the wedding the two never spent a single night together. But that’s another story! I loved that he was buried with 11 dogs, all of them Whippets! (He named them after the mistresses of the King of France.)

Frederick the Great’s famous Sanssouci was more of a villa than a palace…it was ten very large rooms with a vineyard and beautiful gardens. His vacation home!

ans Souci’s promenade and vineyards.
The Miller stayed on his property at SansSouci, and Frederick enjoyed working alongside him.
Spectacular garden entrance to SansSouci
In this gorgeous music room, in SansSouci in Brandenburg, Germany, Bach first played the Brandenburg Concertos! I can only imagine what it would have been like to hear them for the first time.
The Library.
Beautiful interiors
Even Andy Warhol loved him some Frederick the Great!
Frederick the Great’s father, the Soldier King, left, wanted his son, center, to be a great soldier and general (he eventually became known as a military genius). Frederick wanted to play the flute. Things got so bad between father and son that Frederick the son fled to England with his best friend. His father’s army found them and brought the boys back. The Soldier King considered executing his son for treason, but decided that would be a little much, and he did need an heir. So he forced Frederick the son to watch his best friend as he was beheaded. Not the best family relationship, and it may explain why Frederick the Great didn’t care about having an heir. He had no children.
Frederick the Great was buried at SansSouci, along with his eleven Whippets!
Instead of flowers, potatoes are laid on the grave of Frederick. He loved them and introduced them to Germany. When he went visiting the villages of his kingdom, he gave potatoes to his people! They honor him by remembering him with potatoes.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Potsdam, and my friend, Suzanne, of Adventures of Empty Nesters, and I enjoyed a lovely lunch and stroll through town. It was a tourist destination even when it was in East Germany after World War II. Though the Communist state didn’t maintain the the city and villas well, they did allow them to be toured. Thank goodness!

Stay tuned for the Bridge of Spies!

and enjoy https://travelswithtam.com/take-a-sensational-viking-river-cruise/

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Tam Warner

Award Winning Travel Journalist and Blogger, writing about Eclectic Travels in the Empty Nest! From scuba to luxury cruises to kayaking to expeditions, Tam is ready to go! Contact me at travelswithtam@gmail.com

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