Sanssouci - History and Facts | History Hit


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About Sanssouci

Built by Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, Sanssouci is a historical building in Potsdam, near Berlin.

Built between 1747 and 1747, the building is often counted amongst the German rivals of Versailles, and is notable for its numerous temples and follies in the park.

History of Sanssouci

The palace being named ‘Sanssouci’ – from the French ‘sans souci’, which translates to ‘without concerns’ – gives an insight into the type of residence that Frederick the Great aimed to create upon designing his famous summer palace.

Designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747, the palace aimed to fulfil Frederick the Great’s need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. Indeed, the king was famously humble, and is epitomised in his saying: ‘a crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in.’

In reality, Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story villa, with ten principal rooms, and built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste upon its design was so great that the style is now characterised as ‘Frederician Rococo’.

During the 19th century, Frederick William IV lived in the palace, and enlarged it as well as improving its grounds and thus their view from the palace. The town of Potsdam and its palaces became a favourite for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918.

After the Second World War, the palace became a tourist attraction in East Germany. After German reunification in 1990, Frederick’s body was returnde to the palace to be buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created.

Sanssouci and its extensive gardens were recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, and in 1995, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg was established to care for Sanssouci and the other former imperial palaces in and around Berlin.

Sanssouci Today

Today, visitors can enjoy Sanssouci’s palace and gardens, with the purposefully small divide between the gardens and residence reflecting Frederick William IV’s pre-Romantic ideals that prized harmony between man and nature above all else.

The original 18th century interior and furnishings have been delicately preserved, and are characterised by their elegance and stylish displays of grandeur.

Opening hours are regular, though the palace is closed on Mondays. There are a number of guided and audio-only tours available.

Getting to Sanssouci

From the centre of Berlin, Sanssouci Palace is reachable in around 50 minutes by car via the A115 and B1 roads. There is also an extensive connecting public transport system which takes around 50 minutes from the centre. From the centre of Potsdam, the palace is reachable in around 35 minutes via the B2 road.