In the outskirts of the Sanssouci Park furthest away from Potsdam city you find a fairly big palace. It is called the Neues Palais or new palace. The building of the castle was started in 1763 by Frederick the Great who also build and lived at Sanssouci Schloss not far from this new castle. The castle was built to celebrate the Seven Year War which ended to the satisfaction for Prussia.
The castle is much bigger than the king’s favorite Schloss Sanssouci where he liked to spend his summers. But despite its size and splendor the Neues Palais wasn’t used as the primary residence of the king. Instead the king only used his royal suite at the castle occasionally and mainly used the castle to show off to foreign dignitaries who could stay there during a visit to the King of Prussia.
After King Frederick’s death in 1786 the castle was unused for almost a century until the Crown Prince of Prussia and later Germany started using it as his summer residence from 1856 till his death in 1888. After this the castle became the favorite residence of the last emperor of Germany until his abdication following World War I. As part of his abdication deal he was allowed to bring much of the original furniture from the castle to his exile in the Netherlands where it remained for the rest of his life.
After the emperor left the castle it became a museum and remained as such until the start of World War II. Miraculously the castle survived the war intact so what you can see today is actually the original building from when the last emperor of Germany used it as his residence. In 1970 the furniture were rediscovered in the Netherlands most of them in their original containers and they were returned to the castle so you can actually see much of what it looked like just over a hundred years ago.
The outside of the castle is decorated by no less than four hundred statues many of which are quite impressive. The castle consists of a main building which is now a museum and can be visited. Opposite the castle is other impressive buildings called the commune these housed the kitchen of the palace and other staff functions like the gardener shop and the palace guard and servants. Today these buildings are used by the University of Potsdam and are not part of a tour of the castle.
You can only visit the inside of the castle on a guided tour – either as the only castle you visit in the park outside Potsdam or on a combination ticket. If you want to visit more castles there is pretty big savings on the combination ticket and during the winter you can visit two or three castle if you start early – earlier than we did. In the summer the opening times are longer and you should be able to see three major castles and possibly other attractions like the windmill in the park.
The guided tour is in German only but they do have audio guides in English and some other languages if you ask for them. The guide do give some of the same information’s as you get on the audio guide and some other information as well so if you speak German you can consider if you want the live guide or the audio guide when you go around the castle. No matter if you choose the audio guide or the live guide you will still have to follow the speed of the German speaking part of the tour.
The inside of the castle is very impressive and we enjoy our tour around the castle where we can take in the different rooms. I particularly like a large room called the grotto which is a big room with no column’s inside. The grotto walls are covered by shells, stones, marble, quartz and semiprecious stones and the floor has pictures of marine animals and plants.
After the grotto we walk through several apartments which are all very impressive – this castle is clearly build to impress the guest of the king. After walking through many apartments we reach the marble hall on top of the grotto – this hall is also a very impressive hall. The design of the building has meant this hall has been closed for repair for many years since there are no columns in the grotto and there is marble on the floor of the hall there has been a problem with too much weight. The wood carrying the floor of the marble hall had become damaged by water and had to be replaced. Fortunately the rotten wood has been replaced and the wonderful marble hall is open so all can visit the room.
After a visit at the castle you can either walk through the wonderful park to Potsdam if you got the time and there is still daylight – or you can walk down to the main road and get a bus on the other side of the road back to Potsdam.