World Heritage #0532 – Potsdam

Last modified 07.05.2023 | Published 04.09.1990Germany, North and Central Europe, World Heritage Sites

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In the huge parks of Potsdam, at the western outskirts of the German capital, we find a large collection of fine palaces.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.


Official facts

  • Official name: Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin
  • Country: Germany
  • Date of Inscription: 1990
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 532:

“With 500 ha of parks and 150 buildings constructed between 1730 and 1916, Potsdam’s complex of palaces and parks forms an artistic whole, whose eclectic nature reinforces its sense of uniqueness. It extends into the district of Berlin-Zehlendorf, with the palaces and parks lining the banks of the River Havel and Lake Glienicke. Voltaire stayed at the Sans-Souci Palace, built under Frederick II between 1745 and 1747.”


My visit

According to Wikipedia, Potsdam was a residence of the Prussian kings and the German Kaiser until 1918. Its planning embodied ideas of the Age of Enlightenment: through a careful balance of architecture and landscape, Potsdam was intended as “a picturesque, pastoral dream” which would remind its residents of their relationship with nature and reason.

The city, which is over 1000 years old, is widely known for its palaces, its lakes, and its overall historical and cultural significance. Landmarks include the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, Germany’s largest World Heritage Site, as well as other palaces such as the Orangery Palace, the New Palace, the Cecilienhof Palace, or the Charlottenhof Palace.

For some reason my notes taken during my 1990 visit do not really excel in superlatives.

“The town of Potsdam itself was not much to write about. A post-war phenomenon with boring shops, squares etc. The town has however a fantastic park and palaces area – the Sanssouci. The weather was bad, but the area must as the name says be without comparison, containing a number of castles and palaces set in a huge park. We went into one of them – grand. The others palaces were expensive and with long queues.”

Read more about my visit. 

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