'Rush Hour' was a term that brought great joy when I was younger as it was truly a great film. Never could I imagine that the same terms would one day cause so much distress, being the norm at all times in our beloved Dhaka city. Nowadays, the roads are clogged whenever I go outside, as if it is the peak of rush hour.
And I hate it!
If you are visiting Germany, make a stop at Potsdam, which is just outside of Berlin, to see the palaces and gardens in Sanssouci Park. The park is an ensemble of palaces and garden complexes, which were built under Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, during the 18th century in Potsdam. Later it was expanded by his successors. The complex has Sanssouci Palace, Orangery Palace, Picture Gallery, New Palace at Sanssouci, Historic Windmill, Chinese House and other Palaces, Chambers, and Roman Baths. People say that you could not get closer to Frederick the Great than Sanssouci Palace; it is the most personal of his palaces. The palace graces the hill-side on which it was built. There is a chance you would be lost in this massive complex, we got lost too, a young man came to our help.
HOW TO REACH SANSSOUCI PARK
We caught a train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) and it took 20 minutes for the Regional Express Train (RE) to arrive at Potsdam Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station), at Potsdam. From the station, we got into Bus No 695 to Sanssouci Park. The bus parked right across the Sanssouci complex.
The Visitor Centre is just next to main entrance. We picked up the map of the complex and decided to see the complex by ourselves. The map was very helpful, which gave us a bird's eye view of the whole park. As we had a half day to spend, decided to see as much as possible, skip a few.
Sanssouci Palace is the summer residence of Frederick the Great (constructed in 1745-47), who reigned Prussia from 1740-1786 AD. The rococo style building has only 12 rooms, the lobby leads to the reception hall, and Frederick the Great used to arrange round table meetings of intellectuals where Voltaire used to attend. A library with more than 2000 books, which were in French, as it was the language of the royal court, none in German.
Frederick was a philosopher and musician, used to play transverse flute and composed sonatas and symphonies. Here he used to relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. People loved the modesty of the palace in comparable to its baroque counterpart. He spent almost 40 summers here from April to October. Frederick craved for French wines and loved the grapes of the vineyard. The vineyard was designed in such a way that it grew on both sides of the stairs leading to the Sanssouci palace on the hill-top.
The gardens included flowers and vegetables, but the gardeners were unable to master the skills of the fountain, so Frederick the Great was not fortunate enough to see the beautiful fountain flowing surrounded by sculptures. The lush green lawn with manicured bushes created a tranquil atmosphere. There are white benches to sit near the fountain to watch far and away greeneries.
We sat on the bench to enjoy every bit of the beautiful garden.
The flowers beds at all four corners were shining brightly with an array of colours.
While going up the hill, the grape trees planted on both sides of the stairs guiding us to the terrace. The whole palace is ornately decorated with sculptures. It was worth taking the stairs. The bird's eye view from the palace terrace was breath-taking!
In 1786 Frederick the Great died, but his final wish was not granted until 1991 when he was reburied in Sanssouci on his 205th death anniversary.
ORANGERY PALACE AT SANSSOUCI
In Sanssouci Park, our next stop was at the Orangery Palace, which was built during Frederick William IV of Prussia from 1851-1864. The interior of the palace is grand so I heard, but due to lack of time, unable to see. Wish we had little more time to spend, so we could see The Raphael Hall, which houses copies of the artist's works. But the manicured garden itself was majestic and the view from the top with statue standing high was grand.
NEW PALACE AT SANSSOUCI
It was endless walking, as we were looking for the New Palace. Both sides of the walking path are lined with huge trees and the path is covered with pebbles. There was a movie shoot going on at the Walking Trail, we were told to cross to the other side and there we got lost and a young man came to our rescue to lead us to the New Palace.
The shoot reminded me the scene from the movie “The Last Station” where Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his Private Secretary Valentin (James McAvoy) used to take a long walk at the palace ground along the walking trail.
A few blocks of walking led us to the New Palace, the largest and most impressive palace in Sanssouci. An interior tour of the palace includes The Marble Hall, Grotto Hall, the Concert Room and its own Palace Theater. It is considered to be the last great Prussian baroque palace completed in 1769.
The palace is surrounded by statues and greeneries. The New Palace has decorative roof with statues and turquoise coloured dome attracts many tourists. Chinese House and Picture Gallery are the two must see places in the park, but we just walked by these, as the legs were killing.
While coming out of the park we noticed historic windmill standing as the silent observer of the history. The windmill was rebuilt in 1993, as it was destroyed in fire in 1945, during the Second World War. I managed to take a few pictures, but the one I took from a distance, came out better. It was time to end this magnificent adventure.
It was a different kind of excitement to be lost in a palace complex; it's nostalgic to think to be in the place where once the Prussian Kings ruled.