Marilyn and I met up with Paul near the Brandenburg Gate. Paul was the guide we had on a previous tour, and it was good to see he would be guiding us again on the “City of Emperors” – Potsdam tour. He is a thirtyish man, well studied on the history of Prussia and Germany and he is a good story teller. He also has a way of entertaining the crowd with facts.
I have previously written about the Brandenburg Gate where tours begin, but thought it worthy to mention it again. It was built in 1791, and one of 17 gates in the Berlin city wall, preserved from the beginning of its gateway into Prussia’s most important city. It was built with King Friedrich Wilhelm’s specification: twenty reliefs. When in 1806, Napoleon marched into the city, he took off with the group of figures. A statue returned in 1814, and was transformed by famous architect Schinkel, as the goddess of victory.
On the tour yesterday, we saw another gate, which is adorned with gold filagree.
It was a five hour, six mile tour, not counting up and down stairs that took us by tram, bus and train throughout the Potsdam region and where the history lesson we received began.
In the beginning of the tour, with a pain pill, I kept up with the crowd, but as time went on, my position was usually as the caboose. At various times throughout the tour, different people would walk with me, including a woman from Australia, two men from India, and another woman, also from India.
When we got to the King Friedrich II’s Scholoss Sansoucci Palace in Potsdam, built in 1747, Paul suggested that since there were no railings, he would be happy to lend him my arm to get me to the top of the one hundred steps. This is the second time in my life I had to walk those steps. However, the time before was several years ago and it was my nephew, Andy who assisted me, but that time it was down the stairs.
Across from Sansoucci Palace is another palace we saw up close, and learned this one was built, also by King Frederich The Great – typically for most royalty in those years – to show his wealth.
Frederick the Great, built the palace 20 years later and the new palace was four times longer and three times that of Sanssouci. By the way, Sanssouci means ‘without worry’.
The interesting thing about the palace is that it was never used. One of the young men from India and I were discussing what should have been done with such an expansive building. I suggested it could have been used as a hotel with the proceeds going to charity.
The young man is a master of business administration candidate from a school in Berlin, and thought my idea was a good one. The building has stood unused for years.
Marilyn reminded me of another unused building: the U.S. Embassy building nearby the embassy row of other embassies, including the new U.S Embassy.
While at Potsdam we came within view other palaces, a Chinese teahouse, a Dutch windmill, parks and lakes.
On the tour, and still in Potsdam we stopped and took a break within the Dutch area. With buildings of bell and stair-step facades, it was easy to see the Dutch influence.
Today is New Years Eve, and we’ll be back at the Brandenburg Gate, where it is said, all bedlam will break out. Stay tuned.