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Sanssouci Palace

  • Sanssouci (4)

    Sanssouci Palace Vineyard

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    Visitors inside Sanssouci Palace

  • Park von Sanssouci

    Sanssouci Palace Gardens

  • Park Sanssouci

    Sanssouci Palace Gardens

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    Sanssouci Palace - Orangery

Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam near Berlin is a must-see for tourists. The pleasure palace of Frederick the Great features beautiful Rococo-style architecture and a magnificent palace garden.

Sanssouci Palace

On April 14, 1745, the foundation stone was laid for today's world famous Sanssouci Palace. Sanssouci in Potsdam is an masterpiece ensemble of architecture, sculptures and garden art. The palace seems a league above all other Prussian royal palaces thanks to its fantastic location, serene atmosphere, imaginative playfulness and surprising sophistication. Frederick II had the southern slope on which the palace stands terraced and transformed into a vineyard a year before construction began. The sixfold sweep of the grand staircase and the parabolically shaped terraces provided the perfect stage for the Rococo lifestyle.

A Palace for the Carefree

Under the small dome of the round protruding central section of the main building, the motto of the pleasure palace can be read: "Sans Souci" - French for "without worry". Where wine and figs grow, the Prussian regent wanted to live undisturbed by the harsh reality of government business after moving in on May 1, 1747.


On the upper plateau of the vineyard, cheerful and exuberant, the Hermen pilasters of the palace greet the viewer with cheerful exuberants. They depict 36 bacchantes - companions of the god of wine in Greek mythology - who seem to enjoy carrying the heavy beams. The masterful architectural sculpture of the German Rococo period on the single-story garden facade was created by the sculptor Friedrich Christian Glume (1714-52).

Main Entrance

Only the back of the castle, where the main entrance is located, fulfills the task of official representation. The semicircular main courtyard is formed by double Corinthian columns and radiates an atmosphere of dignified austerity. The same atmosphere reigns once visitors enter the palace through the main entrance: In the vestibule, only the ceiling painting "Flora with Genii" by Johann Harper loosens up the severe, representative atmosphere.

Private Quarters in Sanssouci Palace

To the east of the vestibule are the five private rooms of Frederick II, to the west five separate guest rooms - no space was provided for Frederick II's wife, Queen Elisabeth Christine. Almost all rooms open onto the grandiose gardens. The two side wings of the palace behind the arcades were not expanded to their present size until 1841. With the exception of the oval marble hall and the king's study, the rooms of Sanssouci Palace display the high art of the Rococo style in intoxicating diversity. Under the direction of the brothers Johann Christian Hoppenhaupt (1719-78) and Johann Michael Hoppenhaupt (1709-50), a masterpiece of the Frederician variety of this lively and ornate style was created.

Decorative Splendor

With foliage, vines, flowers, birds and fruits, nature seems to have invaded the palacce and transformed it into a vibrant paradise. Artful ornaments erase the separation between walls and ceilings. The motif of the C-shaped shell - the rocaille, which gave the Rococo style - is found in a myriad of varieties. In the concert room, the decorations are of an almost overwhelming beauty. The gilded ceiling stucco with its elicate and filigree structures in particular is a masterpiece. There are six paintings set into the wall, painted by the court painter Antoine Pesne (1683-1757) and framed by rocailles. They depict the "Metamorphoses" of the Roman poet Ovid. Mirrors further multiply the magnificent impression of the room.

Concert Room

This concert room contributed to the fame of Sanssouci Palace. The house concerts of the king, who had been a passionate flute player since his youth and composed 120 flute sonatas, took place here. He was accompanied by his music teacher Johann Joachim Quantz and by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The fortepiano, modern at the time, on which the son of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach played, still stands in the concert room; next to it is one of Frederick's instruments. The musical king devoted one to two hours a day to playing the flute.

Interior Design of Sanssouci Palace

Visitors of Sanssouci Palace can admire valuable furniture from the time of Frederick the Great as well as antiques, sculptures and paintings - mostly French works from the 18th century, including several by the rococo artist Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). In contrast to the festive mood of the concert room, the rotunda of the wood-paneled library has a productive atmosphere. The more than two thousand books in the king's collection are all written in French. French, not German, was the first language Frederick II learned to speak during childhood. From the library, the monarch could view the antique statue "Praying Boy", which is located in the lattice arbor on the east side of the palace. In 1747, the bronze figure from the late 4th century BC was placed in Sanssouci. The original is now in the Berlin Museum of Antiquities.

Marble Hall

The elliptical marble hall is designed in the spirit of antiquity. The walls and floor are covered with marble from Carrara. Groups of figures on the cornice symbolize architecture, music, painting, sculpture and astronomy.

Voltaire Room

A special feature among the many architectural treasures of the palace is the so-called Voltaire room. Naturalistic sculptural wall decorations in bright colors are set on a yellow background. The younger of the Hoppenhaupt brothers virtuously carved fruits, birds, flower garlands and little monkeys that look amazingly realistic. The chandelier and four sconces are equally skillfully decorated with porcelain flowers. However, the namesake philosopher Voltaire probably never lived in the room - his accommodation was in the Potsdam City Palace.

About Frederick the Great

Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam is inextricably linked with Prussia's most famous monarch, known to all only as Frederick the Great or "Old Fritz" - a composer and flute player, a battle-hardened general, fond of tolerance and tactless at the same time. King Frederick II (1712-86) abolished torture, coined many bon mots and turned his kingdom into a great power. Part of the myth of Sanssouci Palace is that the enchanting pleasure palace in Potsdam began as a scrawly sketch on a piece of paper, sketched by none other than the king himself.

An Enlightened Monarch

Frederick the Great was a disciplined ruler who imposed a strict daily routine on himself. One of the greatest achievements of his long reign was the restriction of the sovereign's omnipotence through an independent judiciary. For the first time, the law stood above the sovereign and a uniform body of law was drawn up that was binding for everyone. Frederick II also caused a sensationwith his tolerant attitude toward religious issues. His statement that "everyone should be blessed according to his own wishes" became a state program and a common saying. Who would have thought that the following liberal thoughts of the absolute ruler could one day overwhelm his descendants: "All religions are equal and good (...) and if Turks and pagans come and want to populate the country, we will build them mosques and churches." Frederick II's reputation of an enlightened monarch was enhanced by his dinner parties, to which he invited his closest friends and the intellectual elite of his court as well as scientists and writers from Italy and France.

The Tomb of Frederick the Great

In the last years of his reign, which lasted almost half a century, Frederick the Great was grief-stricken and scarred by the wars. On August 17, 1786, he died in Sanssouci Palace, his very private realm. The armchair in which the monarch passed away still stands in his study. He was buried under a plain sandstone tomb slab next to the east wing of the palace, with eleven of his beloved dogs buried next to him. Flowers lie on the grave - and, curiously, potatoes. They are a sign of gratitude to the monarch's, who brought the exotic tubers to Prussia in order to prevent famine.

Sanssouci Palace after Frederick the Great

The heavily lived-in study and bedroom of Frederick the Great were remodeled by his successor immediately after his death: Frederick William II (1744-97) had them decorated in the classicist style with ornaments from antiquity and the Renaissance. The original rococo furniture returned later. Except for this renovation, the descendants of Frederick the Great respected the aura of the dead monarch and rarely stayed in his rooms. In 1842, a kitchen for the court was built in the eastern side wing, which can be visited in its original state. Sanssouci has not been inhabited since 1873.

New Chambers of Sanssouci Palace

In the immediate vicinity of the palace are the New Chambers and the Picture Gallery. Each building was stylistically adapted to the palace and has its own garden. The New Chambers, a guest house, were built in 1771-74 in the late Rococo style. Together with the Sicilian Garden, they are located to the west of the palace.

Picture Gallery

To the east, a completely new type of building was erected between 1755 and 1764 at the request of Frederick the Great: the Picture Gallery, an independent building that served solely to store paintings. Thus, the picture gallery is the oldest preserved independent museum building in Germany. The inconspicuous-looking building harbors a surprising secret inside. At the sight of the elongated hall, contemporaries of Frederick II went into raptures: with its noble wall and floor coverings from quarries of antiquity and its gilded stucco ceiling, it is one of the most beautiful and sublime museum rooms in Europe. A visit to the Picture Gallery is a real treat for art lovers. Outstanding works of the Italian Renaissance and Flemish and Italian Baroque by such renowned artists as Bassano, Caravaggio, Reni, Rubens, van Dyck and Breugheld are on display here.

Chinese Teahouse

The Chinese Teahouse on the edge of the Baroque gardens is an architectural gem of the Rococo period. The green pavilion with its lavishly gilded figures was built in 1754-56 based on sketches of Frederick II himself. The teahouse vividly illustrates the preference for exotic motifs that reigned supreme among 18th century European royals. Around the columns, which represent palm trees, very cheerful-looking life-size sculptures are grouped. The sandstone musicians were created by the sculptors Johann Peter Benkert and Johann Gottlieb Heymüller. A mandarin with a parasol sits on the roof.

Pleasure Garden and Fountains

The pleasure garden of Sanssouci Palace, extending from the obelisk at the park entrance to the roundels below the New Chambers, was laid out in the classic French manner. Between areas with symmetrical paths, accurately trimmed hedges and numerous sculptures lies the French Rondell, a baroque parterre at the foot of the vineyard. The fountains are surrounded by marble benches and sculptures representing eight Olympian gods and the four elements. Frederick II had a water basin built on a hill behind the palace especially for the fountains.


Map view

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City map

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Maulbeerallee 1
14469 Potsdam
Opening Hours
April to October: Tue-Sun 10 AM till 6 PM
November to March: Tue-Sun 10 AM till 5 PM
Suitable for people with disabilities with an accompanying person. Wheelchair accessible restrooms in the Visitor Center at the Old Mill.
Admission Fee
€ 12, reduced fee € 8, incl. guided tour or audio guide
Book tickets
Please Note
The interior of Sanssouci Palace can only be visited in the context of a guided tour.

Public transportation

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Source: Jaron | All texts, photographs and graphics on this page are protected by copyright. They may not be copied, reproduced, translated or used in any other way.

Last edited: 27 June 2023