Posts Tagged ‘Hohenzollern’

Sanssouci – modest king’s retreat

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

 

Palace Sanssouci, located in the city of  Potsdam, not far from Berlin, Germany, was built to serve as the summer residence of Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Grosse), King of Prussia. The Hohenzollern king was known for his discipline and modesty. He is said to have been so unpretentious that he once alleged, “A crown is just a hat that lets in the rain.”

The name, Sanssouci, comes from the French “sans souci,” and roughly translates into “without worry.” Sanssouci Palace was King Frederick’s favorite retreat where he would relax without having to observe the formalities of the royal court in Berlin. Here he could philosophize and play music, which were his favorite pastimes. No women were allowed in Sanssouci, not even Frederick the Great’s wife. http://www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/sanssoucipark.htm Following the king’s death in 1786, Sanssouci remained mostly unoccupied and neglected until the mid-19th century when it became the residence of King Frederick William IV (Friedrich Wilhelm IV). Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

History of Palace Sanssouci

In 1744, Frederick ordered the hillside of an orchard to be transformed into three terraced vineyards. Against the brickwork he planted vines from Portugal, Italy, France and Neuruppin. Fig trees were placed in the niches. Then, between 1745 and 1747, Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff designed and built Palace Sanssouci on the ridge of that terraced hillside.

Palace Sanssouci atop of a terraced hillside, planted with grapes and fig trees. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Palace Sanssouci atop a terraced hillside planted with grapes and fig trees. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

The design of the small rococo chateau was based on a sketch made by the king himself. In 1748, a large fountain was constructed in the center of the garden and marble statues were placed around its basin. They include include Venus, Mercury, Apollo, Diana, Juno, Jupiter, Mars and Minerva, as well as the four elements Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

Statue at Sanssouci depicting Earth. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Statue at Sanssouci depicting Earth. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

In 1750, Frederick the Great commissioned construction of the baroque New Palace (Neues Palais), but construction did not begin until 1763. In contrast to the single-story Sanssouci Palace, which is rather modest in size and has only ten key rooms, the two-story New Palace contains more than two hundred lavishly decorated rooms, including several ballrooms.

New Palace (Neues Palais). Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

New Palace (Neues Palais). Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

One hundred years later, King Frederick William IV built the orangery (Orangerie). Some of the rooms in the 984-foot-long structure house a collection of paintings by Raphael. However, they are copies. The originals were looted by Napoleon.

Also located in Park Sanssouci is the Chinese teahouse (Chinesisches Teehaus), constructed in 1756. It currently holds a collection of porcelain. Gilded sandstone sculptures sit at the feet of the columns and stand along the walls of the rooms. Locals stood as models, which explains the statues’ European features.

Chinese Teahouse in Park Sanssouci. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Chinese Teahouse in Park Sanssouci. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Frederick the Great wished to be buried at Sanssouci

Frederick the Great died in his study in the Palace of Sanssouci in 1786 and had requested to be buried next to his greyhounds on the vineyard terrace. But his successor Frederick William II (Friedrich Wilhelm II) ordered to have the body entombed in the Potsdam Garrison Church, next to Frederick the Great’s father. Toward the end of World War II, Hitler ordered the coffin to be hidden in a salt mine. The U.S Army relocated the remains to Marburg. In 1953, the coffin was moved to Burg Hohenzollern, the ancestral seat of the House of Hohenzollern. Not until 1991, on the 205th anniversary of the death of Frederick the Great, was Frederick’s body finally laid to rest – in accordance with his will – in the terrace of the vineyard of Sanssouci .

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

 

 

 

Schloss Charlottenburg – Urban Gem

Monday, December 5th, 2016

 

Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace) is one of the few remaining examples of the grand Hohenzollern palaces in the city of Berlin. The Hohenzollern ruled Prussia for nearly four centuries. During a British air raid in 1943, a bomb caused a fire, and the baroque and rococo palace burned to the ground. Demolition of Schloss Charlottenburg was planned, but after the East German government demolished the Berliner Stadtschloss, the city palace of the Hohenzollern in 1950, http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berliner-stadtschloss-to-humboldt-forum/ West German authorities decided to rebuild Charlottenburg Palace. The project took more than sixty years to complete.

 

Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace) in Berlin, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace) in Berlin, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Brief History of Schloss Charlottenburg

Construction of Schloss Charlottenburg started in 1695. At that time it was known as Lietzenburg. The palace was built as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, wife of the Elector of Brandenburg, Friedrich III. In 1701, after crowning himself Friedrich I, King of Prussia, the palace saw a significant expansion. After Sophie Charlotte’s death, the palace was renamed Schloss Charlottenburg. Architecture did not interest Friedrich’s son, Friedrich Wilhelm I, so that all construction stopped when he ascended the throne in 1713. In 1740 Friedrich II, also known as Friedrich the Great, commissioned an expansion of the New Wing (east wing) to complement the larger west wing.

Don’t miss when visiting Schloss Charlottenburg

At the entrance to the palace, a large equestrian statue of the Friedrich Wilhelm III, the Great Elector of Brandenburg, greets the visitor. The bronze was originally located on the Kurfuerstenbruecke, a bridge near the city palace. But during World War II, the statue was submerged in Tegeler See, a large lake in Berlin. Upon recovery in 1952, it was moved to the entrance of Schloss Charlottenburg. The four chained warriors at the base of the statue symbolize the four temperaments.

 

Statue of the Great Elector of Brandenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm III, at the entrance to Schloss Charlottenburg, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Statue of the Great Elector of Brandenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm III, at the entrance to Schloss Charlottenburg, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Altes Schloss

The central and oldest part of the palace is the domed Altes Schloss (Old Palace). It is topped with a statue of the goddess Fortuna. Among the treasures inside are the apartments of Friedrich I and Queen Sophie Charlotte, the Oak Gallery with family portraits of members of the House of Hohenzollern and the Porcelain Chamber with over two thousand pieces of Chinese porcelain.

 Neuer Fluegel (New Wing)

The Neuer Fluegel contains the private living quarters of Friedrich the Great and the apartments of Friedrich Wilhelm II. The two most striking rooms in the New Wing are the Weisser Saal (White Hall), a magnificent dining room, and the Goldene Galerie (Golden Gallery). The latter is a 138 foot-long ballroom decorated with mirrors and gilded rococo ornaments.

Schlossgarten

The extensive park behind Schloss Charlottenburg was created between 1697 and 1701 and designed by Simeon Godeau who also created the gardens of Versailles.

Belvedere

Towards the northern end of the Schlossgarten, near the river Spree, is Belvedere, originally a teahouse. It was built between 1788 and 1790, destroyed during World War II, reconstructed in the late 1950s and now houses a collection of eighteenth-century porcelain produced by Berlin manufacturers.

Belvedere in the gardens of Schloss Charlottenburg, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Belvedere in the gardens of Schloss Charlottenburg, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Mausoleum

The Mausoleum is on the western side of the Schlossgarten. It is a Doric temple that was built in 1810 as the burial place for Queen Luise. The mausoleum was later expanded to include the sarcophagi of other members of the royal family, including Frederick William II, Emperor William I and Queen Augusta.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

Schloss Cecilienhof – Cecilienhof Palace

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Schloss Cecilienhof became international known as the site of the Potsdam Conference in 1945. Prior to the end of World War II, the palace had served as the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm, his wife, Duchess Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin and their six children. Located southwest of Berlin, Germany, the English Tudor-style building resembles a Grand English Country Manor with its half-timbered walls, bricks and many chimneys. With a total of 176 rooms, Cecilienhof is considerably larger than it seems.

Schloss Cecilienhof - Cecilienhof Palace

Schloss Cecilienhof – Cecilienhof Palace

Schloss Cecilienhof’s Pre-1945 History

The castle was the last palace to be built by the Hohenzollern, a dynasty that ruled Prussia and Germany for 500 years. The German Emperor Wilhelm II had Schloss Cecilienhof built for his eldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm. Construction began in 1914 and was completed in 1917. After only one happy year together in their new home, the royal couple remained separated for the rest of their lives. Even before the revolution of 1918, the Crown Prince rarely found time to be with his family. The Duchess and her six children continued to live at the palace from time to time until 1920 when Schloss Cecilienhof was confiscated. The royal couple’s two oldest sons, Wilhelm and Louis Ferdinand, remained at castle to attend public school in Potsdam. But when the Red Army drew close to Berlin in February of 1945, the Duchess and all of her children fled without being able to salvage many of their possessions. At the end of World War II, the Soviets seized Cecilienhof, which was located within the Soviet Zone of Germany. http://www.bibelotslondon.co.uk/shop/4586332944/wilhelm-hohenzollern-german-crown-prince-in-exile-signed-photo-1927/10537631

Schloss Cecilienhof and the Potsdam Conference

From July 17 to August 2, 1945, US President Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee Joseph Stalin convened at the Schloss Cecilienhof to decide the future of Germany. The three Allied powers decided to meet at the palace because the capital itself was too heavily damaged.

Prior to the Potsdam Conference, thirty-six rooms and the Great Hall were renovated and furnished with furniture from other Potsdam palaces. The Hohenzollern’s furniture had been removed by the Soviets and stored elsewhere. Cecilie’s music salon and writing room, Wilhelm’s smoking room, library and breakfast room as well as the Great Hall (where the Potsdam Agreement was signed) were among the rooms that were renovated and used during the Potsdam Conference. The various delegations were housed in the suburb of Potsdam-Babelsberg.

The Great Hall at Schloss Cecilienhof where the Potsdam Agreement was signed

The Great Hall at Schloss Cecilienhof where the Potsdam Agreement was signed

Schloss Cecilienhof’s Post-1945 History

After the Potsdam Conference had ended, Soviet troops used the palace as a clubhouse for a while. Later, Schloss Cecilienhof was handed over to the state of Brandenburg. In 1952, a memorial for the Conference was set up in the former private chambers of Crown Prince Wilhelm and Duchess Cecilie. The East German government used the palace for state receptions and other important meetings. In 1960, part of the castle was turned into a hotel. Today, part of Schloss Cecilienhof still serves as a museum. The hotel is temporarily closed for renovations and expects to reopen in 2018.

Since 1990, Schloss Cecilienhof is part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.