Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Living Like A Princess: Potsdam Castle Tours


Just call me Kate Middleton. I got the princess treatment this past weekend when my study abroad program spent a long day touring castles in Potsdam, a cute little town just outside of Berlin. 

The first palace on our agenda was Schloss Sanssouci , the summer home of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in the 1700s. Our group got a guided tour of the castle to learn about its fascinating history and Rococo design. Frederick was known for his love of the arts, and this love was reflected in his extremely ornate, flashy palace, which I heard rivals Versailles in France. The decor is literally jaw-dropping —the walls are adorned with shiny gold and flashy silk wallpaper, and the furniture looks too expensive (and uncomfortable) to use. 

We also got a glimpse of the gardens and vineyard, which stretch more than 724 acres. Colorful flowers and green trees lined walking paths, which led down from the castle in steep hills. A fountain was in the center of the garden. 

The gardens led to a Chinese Tea House. An interesting fact is that the statues in front of the tea house look more Mongolian than Chinese, since rarely anyone in 18th century Germany knew what a Chinese person looked like.

After lunch, we went to Schloss Cecilienhof, a former Hohenzollern castle and the site of the Potsdam conference of 1945 where Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin discussed Nazi German punishments and other post-World War Two plans. The castle wasn't as elaborate as Schloss Sanssouci, but the historical aspects were still very impressive. We even saw the infamous table where the world leaders met. 

Ive been to a couple of German castles before (Neuschwanstein and Schloss Heidelberg), but the ones in Potsdam were different and unique. I've learned that no two castles are the same and I'm excited to see more!