Posts Tagged ‘Potsdam’

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

 

 

 

 

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Alexandrowka – Russian Colony in Potsdam

Monday, December 26th, 2016

 

The Russian colony Alexandrowka is located in the northern part of the city of Potsdam, not far from Berlin. Karlo Rossi, a Russian architect of Italian origin, designed the village in the 19th century. It resembles Glosovo in appearance, a settlement near Petersburg in Russia. In 1996, Alexandrowka was included UNESCO’s Potsdam World Heritage Site.

 

One of 12 houses in Alexandrowka, a Russian Colony in Potsdam, near Berlin. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 1213. www.walled-in-berlin.com

One of 12 houses in Alexandrowka, a Russian Colony in Potsdam, near Berlin. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 1213. www.walled-in-berlin.com

History of the Alexandrowka Colony

Alexandrowka was built between 1826 and 1827. King Friedrich Wilhelm III who ruled Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars and the end of the Holy Roman Empire ordered construction of the colony. Historical and personal circumstances motivated him to create the colony.

In 1806 the French had invaded and defeated Prussia in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. In 1812 they had invaded Russia. This time, however, they were badly defeated themselves so that the great French dominion collapsed. Following the 1812 war, sixty-two Russian soldiers remained in Potsdam. From this group a choir was formed to entertain the Prussian troops. In 1825, Tsar Alexander I died, and King Friedrich Wilhelm III ordered the construction of Alexandrowka to memorialize his kinship and friendship with the Romanov family. He built the colony for the last twelve Russian singers of the former soldiers choir who were still living in Potsdam at the time. He named the village Alexandrowka after the Tsarina.

Construction of the Alexandrowka Houses

King Friedrich Wilhelm III had 12 one-and two-story wooden houses constructed on small homesteads. Military artisans, belonging to Prussian guard regiments, built the half-timbered houses (having walls with a timber frame and a brick or plaster filling) with semicircular logs, to make them look like log cabins. In Russia, the homes would have been covered with straw. In Prussia, a Holzverbretterung (timber cladding) was chosen, which was replaced with slate at the end of the 19th century. Each homestead consisted of a house with a balcony and a loggia. A loggia is a covered exterior corridor with an outer wall that is open to the elements and supported by a series of columns. Through a roofed gate the loggia was connected to a small stable building. Every house had a garden. Every household was given a cow. All houses were fully furnished.

 

Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia built the houses for twelve singers who belonged to a choir, made up of former Russian soldiers. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia built the houses for twelve singers who belonged to a choir, made up of former Russian soldiers. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

In 1827, the twelve singers and their families moved in. They neither purchased the properties, nor did they lease or mortgage them. Instead, each homestead was handed down to male descendants. In 1861, the last singer died. By 1927, only two families in Alexandrowka were direct descendants of the original Russian soldiers who had settled there. And in 2008, the last of these direct descendants died. His family name was Schischkoff.

Since the German reunification in 1990 most of the houses in the settlement are privately owned. Since 2005, the museum of Alexandrowka provides insight into the history and architecture of the log cabins and provides information on their construction method.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dutch Treat at the Dutch Quarter

Monday, December 19th, 2016

 

The Dutch Quarter (Hollaendisches Viertel) is a neighborhood in the city of Potsdam, about 15 miles southwest of Berlin. Its 134 three-story red brick houses with Dutch style gables were constructed between 1733 and 1740. Originally, all of the buildings had front yards, but the last garden gave way in 1928. Today, the Dutch Quarter in Potsdam is Europe’s greatest collection of Dutch-style houses outside of the Netherlands. Mittlestrasse no. 8, the Johann-Boumann-Haus, is open to the public and details the history of the Dutch Quarter.

 

The Dutch Quarter (Hollaendisches Viertel) in Potsdam near Berlin, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www. walled-in-berlin.com

The Dutch Quarter (Hollaendisches Viertel) in Potsdam near Berlin, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www. walled-in-berlin.com

History of the Dutch Quarter

Construction of the Dutch Quarter began during the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, the “Soldier King.” To expand and upgrade the garrison town of Potsdam, Friedrich Wilhelm needed a large number of skilled craftsmen. Partial to the skillfulness of Dutch tradesman, he hoped to entice Dutch immigrants to Potsdam by offering them a home, freedom of conscience to follow their own beliefs in matters of religion and morality and the promise of plenty of work.

Eagerly, Friedrich Wilhelm asked the Dutch designer/builder, Jan Bouman, to construct four blocks of red brick houses, reminiscent of the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the Dutch tradesmen did not arrive in the anticipated numbers so that many soldiers and their families, French and Prussian artists and travelling salesmen moved into the settlement instead. At some point, one third of the inhabitants were French.

Until 1878, the second battalion of the Prussian first Foot Guard Regiment was stationed in the Dutch Quarter. In 1906, the Hauptmann von Koepenick http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-captain-from-koepenick-ruse/ purchased his uniform in Mittelstrasse no. 3. from second-hand dealer Bertold Remlinter.

The Dutch Quarter in the 20th Century

The Dutch Quarter miraculously escaped major damage during World War II. Following the Second World War, the settlement became part of Soviet Occupation Zone. It was left to decay until the city council voted in the 1970s to begin restoration. Following German reunification in 1990, and with the help of the Dutch Monarchy, property owners, artists, conservationists and private investors, restoration took a major step forward and is completed by now.

The Dutch Quarter Today

Today, the Dutch Quarter’s picturesque mix of residential, small shops, galleries, artisan workshops, small backyard taverns, antique dealers, tempting restaurants and cozy cafés give it a unique charm that is popular with locals and tourists alike. The opportunity to Dutch Treat at the Dutch Quarter presents itself around every corner. Three times during the year, the Dutch Quarter celebrates: There is the tulip festival in April, the pottery market in September and the Dutch Christmas Market, called Sinterklaas.

 

The Dutch Quarter with its cozy taverns, small restaurants and cafes, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

The Dutch Quarter with its cozy taverns, small restaurants and cafes, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

Locals and tourists enjoy the charm of the Dutch Quarter on a sunny afternoon, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Locals and tourists enjoy the charm of the Dutch Quarter on a sunny afternoon, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2013. www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

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

 

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Glienicker Bruecke – Bridge of Spies

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Glienicker Bruecke (Glienicke Bridge) is located in Germany and connects Brandenburg’s capital Potsdam to Berlin’s Wannsee district. Since the division of Berlin, the border between Soviet-occupied East Berlin and the US-occupied western sector of Berlin ran right through the center of the bridge. For this reason, the Western Allies and the Soviets used Glienicke Bridge during the Cold War years to exchange captured spies.

Glienicker Bruecke – History

Today’s Glienicker Bruecke, is the fourth bridge that spans the Havel River in this site. The first bridge was build around 1660 and was made of wood. In order to accommodate increased traffic between Berlin and the Emperor’s new castle in Potsdam, the wooden bridge was replaced with a brick and wood drawbridge in the first quarter of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, the drawbridge no longer met the needs of the populace and was replaced with an iron bridge. But at the end of World War II, in April 1945, an unexploded shell severely damaged Glienicke Bridge. Reconstruction was completed in 1949 and the East German government renamed it “Bridge of Unity” because of the close proximity of East and West.

During the Cold War years, East German authorities closed the bridge to the people of West Berlin and West Germany in 1952 and also to East German citizens in 1961, when the Berlin Wall was constructed. Soon, Glienicker Bruecke became a favored point of exchange of secret agents between East and West. By the 1970s, the bridge needed significant repairs. West Berlin repaired its half of the repairs to the bridge in 1980 and for the work on the East German half of the structure in 1985. The deal included a provision that the East German authorities would rename the bridge “Glienicker Bruecke” once again. One day after the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the bridge also reopened to pedestrians.

1960 - Tourists having their picture taken on the western side of Glienicker Bruecke, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014

1960 – Tourists having their picture taken on the western side of Glienicker Bruecke, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014

Glienicker Bruecke – Bridge of Spies

During the Cold War, Glienicker Bruecke became the site of three well-known East/West spy exchanges, which resulted it the name “Bridge of Spies.”

1962 – The US exchanges Soviet Intelligence officer Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher (also known as Rudolf Abel) for American pilot Francis Gary Powers whose U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over Soviet Union airspace and the American Ph.D. student Frederic L. Pryor. The exchange inspired the 2015 movie, “Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks as James Donovan, Abel’s defense attorney, and Sebastian Koch as the East German attorney Wolfgang Vogel who brokered some of the most famous spy swaps between East and West.  For more information on Wolfgang Vogel’s involvement, visit http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/wolfgang-vogel-east-german-profiteer/

1964 – The British exchanges Soviet intelligence officer Konon Molody for British spy Greville Wynne.

1986 – The US exchanges Czech spies Karl and Hana Koecher, Soviet spy Yevgeni Zemlyakov, Polish spy Marian Zacharski and East German spy Detlef Scharfenorth for human rights campaigner Anatoly Sharansky and three low-level Western spies. http://www.planet-wissen.de/politik_geschichte/ddr/geteilte_stadt_berlin/agententausch.jsp

 

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.

 

 

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