Facts about Potsdam

We found 24 facts about Potsdam

The residence of the Prussian kings

Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg. Due to its historical past, it is an international city, which is also reflected in the diversity of city partnerships. It has a turbulent history as a place of military installations, starting from the Prussian and Imperial armies, through the Reichswehr, Wehrmacht, Red Army, National People's Army to the Bundeswehr. As the second residence of the Prussian kings after Berlin, the city was expanded by the soldier king into a garrison town, where sometimes soldiers constituted half of the inhabitants. As a historic center of European immigration, Potsdam attracted people from all over Europe, which is still evident in the city's culture and architecture. It is a city known mainly for its very valuable historic complexes, mainly the Sanssouci Park and palace complex, built in the 18th century by Frederick II the Great, and since 1990 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Potsdam is the capital of the German state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg metropolitan region.

It has 183.154 inhabitants and is the most populous city in the region.

It is situated on the Havel River, a tributary of the Elbe.

It borders Berlin in the southwest and is one of the most prosperous cities in its agglomeration with approximately 4.7 million inhabitants.

The area in which Potsdam is located was formed from a series of large moraines left over from the last glaciation.

Forests and lakes dominate the city's landscape. Only a quarter of its area is built-up, the rest is green areas.

There are about 20 lakes and rivers in Potsdam and its surroundings.

The highest hill in the city is Kleiner Ravensberg with a height of 114.2 m above sea level.

This hill is located in a forest called Ravensberge. The hill is part of a retaining moraine.

The lowest point is in the city center, on the banks of the Havel, and is 29 m above sea level.

The history of Potsdam spans over a thousand years.

The area where Potsdam is located has been inhabited by humans probably since the Bronze Age. After the migration of peoples, the Slavic Hewelan tribe built a castle on the Havel in the 7th century.

The first documented mention of this place dates back to 993. In the act of donation of the later Emperor Otto III to the abbey in Quedlnburg, the name "Poztupimi" appears.

Until 1317, Potsdam was mentioned as a small town.

Potsdam received city rights in 1345.

In 1373, it was still a small market town with about 2000 inhabitants. people. The city lost half of this population in the Thirty Years' War.

In 1415, Potsdam became the property of the Hohenzollerns.

In 1660, the city was chosen as the hunting residence of the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick William I, and became the core of a powerful state that later transformed into the Kingdom of Prussia.

After the announcement of the Edict of Potsdam, which encouraged Protestants to settle in Brandenburg, Potsdam became a center of European immigration.

The religious freedom prevailing there attracted people from France (Huguenots), Russia, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. This accelerated the city's population growth and revitalized it economically.

Later, the city became the full residence of the Prussian royal family.

Under the rule of Frederick William I, the city became an important garrison site. As the population continued to increase, new housing estates began to be built. A garrison church was also built, as well as the church of St. Nicholas and the church of St. Spirit which shaped the image of the city.

A military orphanage was also established where the children of military personnel were cared for, educated, and given military training.

Frederick the Great, son of Frederick I, valued the ideas of the Enlightenment and reformed the Prussian state.

During his reign, Potsdam became a residential city, also in terms of its cityscape, and then made enormous changes in the appearance of its streets and squares.

He completely rebuilt the Old Market Square, and the tenement houses gained new baroque facades.

He also transformed Sanssouci Park into his summer residence.

Before the Sanssouci residence was built, first, terraced gardens were created on the southern slopes of the Bornstedt hill, founded by Frederick II the Great in 1744.

There used to be impressive oak trees on this hill, which were cut down during the reign of Frederick William I, and the wood obtained from them was used to strengthen the marshy areas intended for the expansion of Potsdam. This area, called Wüsten Berg, was developed in the French style.

The slope was divided into six wide terraces, in front of which there was a lawn and a hedge of fruit trees. The walls reinforcing the terraces were covered with vines imported from Italy, Portugal, and France. There were 120 (currently 132) stairs leading to the top of the hill, dividing the slope into two parts.

At the foot of the terraces, a baroque decorative garden with a fountain was established. Around the fountain, there are sculptures of Roman gods and allegorical representations of the four elements: water, air, fire, and earth (representations of air and water were gifts from the King of France, Louis XV).

There was also the so-called kitchen garden that referred to the elaborate garden at the palace of King Louis XIV in Marly-le-Roi.

The one-story palace built in the gardens was intended to be only a summer residence, for the private use of the king and his guests.

Fryderyk planned to spend time there sans souci (without worries), devoting time to his interests and artistic passion. However, twenty years later, in the western part of Sanssouci park, Frederick built a much larger representative palace - the baroque New Palace.

Frederick II the Great, however, did not like it, spoke fanfaronades about it, and rarely stayed there, preferring the Sanssouci palace.

Many distinguished guests stayed in the palace next to the king.

Voltaire is said to have lived there. There is also a hypothesis that Bishop Ignacy Krasicki wrote the famous Monachomachia (War of the Monks) in the Sanssouci palace.

Sanssouci Palace was a palace sans femmes (without women). Frederick's wife, Elizabeth Krystyna Braunschweig-Bevern, from whom the king had been separated since he ascended the throne in 1740, lived in Berlin, in Schönhausen Palace.

In 1806, Potsdam was occupied by French troops, personally commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte.

In 1815, it became the capital of the Brandenburg province and remained so until 1918. The exception is the period 1827-1843 when the capital of the province was Berlin (it became so again after 1918). The province consisted of two governorates named after their capitals: Potsdam and Frankfurt (Oder).

In 1838, the first Potsdam-Berlin railway line in Prussia was opened.

Since 1911, Potsdam had an airship port. The Babelsberg film studio, the first in Germany and the world, was also founded in the Babelsberg district.

In 1914, the last Prussian king and German emperor, Wilhelm II Hohenzollern, signed a declaration of war against the Entente forces in the New Palace.

After the end of World War I, the era of monarchy in Germany ended, Wilhelm II abdicated and fled to the Netherlands in 1918. Potsdam eventually lost its status as a provincial capital, and Germany became a republic.

After the Nazis took power in Germany, on March 21, 1933, a meeting known as "Potsdam Day" took place in Potsdam.

A Reichstag meeting was held in the garrison church, during which President Paul von Hindenburg entrusted the NSDAP leader with the mission of forming a new government. The agreement concluded with a symbolic handshake was broadcast by radio throughout Germany.

Potsdam was destroyed during Allied bombing, especially in the final phase of World War II.

The bombing of April 14, 1945, was particularly severe, when a significant part of the city was destroyed, including the historic downtown. The entry of the Red Army into the city ended the hostilities in Potsdam.

In August 1945, the Big Three conference ending World War II was held in Potsdam.

It was a conference of three heads of government: the Soviet Union (Joseph Stalin), the United States Harry Truman, and Great Britain (Winston Churchill), whose aim was to determine the procedure for eliminating the effects of World War II, the fate of Germany, developing peace treaties and principles of organizing the post-war world.

The proceedings took place in the Great Hall of the Cecilienhof Palace. The participants sat at a round table with a diameter of 3.05 meters, manufactured by the Moscow company Lux.

During the conference, US President Harry Truman issued a telephone order to drop the Little Boy atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The Potsdam Conference was held in Cecilienhof Palace, the last palace built by the Hohenzollerns.

This palace was built for the heir to the throne, William of Hohenzollern, and his wife Cecilia, princess of Mecklenburg and Schwerin. It was modeled on English Gothic manors from Tudor times.

It belongs to the group of palaces and park complexes in Potsdam and Berlin inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1990.

After the conference, the palace was opened to the public.

Later, it housed the training center of the Democratic Women's Association, and in 1960, a hotel for foreign guests was opened in the west wing, which continues to function as a luxury hotel to this day. The rest of the palace is now a museum.

In November 2004, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain visited the palace.

In the years 1947-1952, Potsdam was the capital of the newly created state of Brandenburg.

After its liquidation by the GDR authorities, it became the seat of the Potsdam district. In 1951, the first state university was established in Potsdam - the Pädagogische Hochschule Karl Liebknecht Potsdam (the University of Potsdam).

The Glienicker Brücke bridge over the Havel, built in 1907, was the border between West Berlin and East Germany and was called the "Bridge of Spies" during the Cold War.

It is a bridge over the Havel connecting Potsdam with Berlin. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States used the bridge to exchange spies three times.

This bridge has been used in literature and films: "A Burial in Berlin" from 1966 with Michael Caine in the main role, based on the novel of the same title, and "Bridge of Spies" from 2015 with Tom Hanks in the main role.

After German reunification in 1990, the state of Brandenburg was created and Potsdam became its capital.

A large part of the city's cultural landscape was then included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The entry covers approximately 500 hectares and 150 buildings.

The government of the state of Brandenburg and the Landtag of Brandenburg, i.e. the state parliament, are based in Potsdam.

Hungry for more facts?

Latest topics

42 facts about Kyshtym disaster
42 facts about Kyshtym disaster
The first nuclear accident in Earth's history
Before information about it saw the light of day, the Soviets hid it for over 30 years. The explosion at the Mayak combine was the first nuclear accid ...
37 facts about Saint Petersburg
37 facts about Saint Petersburg
A city of many names
It was a dream and a matter of prestige for the Romanov dynasty to gain access to the Baltic Sea and build a metropolis to testify to Russia's emergin ...
32 facts about Peter the Great
32 facts about Peter the Great
The first Emperor of all Russia
Peter the Great is considered one of Russia's greatest rulers. He was a great reformer, strategist, and builder who was the first of the tsars to trav ...
39 facts about Dyatlov Pass incident
39 facts about Dyatlov Pass incident
Mysterious tragedy in the Ural mountains
The case of a group of students at the Ural Polytechnical Institute in Sverdlovsk continues to arouse great interest and raise many questions. A group ...
11 facts about Brooklyn Bridge
11 facts about Brooklyn Bridge
The first steel suspension bridge in the world
It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world. It connects Brooklyn with Manhattan, runs over the East River, and was completed in 1883. ...
31 facts about Brazil
31 facts about Brazil
South America's largest country
Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America and one of the largest and most populous countries in the world. A former Portuguese ...
44 facts about Ghent
44 facts about Ghent
City of three towers
Ghent is one of Belgium's most visited cities by tourists. This beautiful old Flanders city combines dignity, beauty, culture, and creativity. It is a ...
31 facts about Thailand
31 facts about Thailand
A country on the Indochinese Peninsula
Thailand is an Asian country located in its south-eastern part, famous for its interesting culture and religious architecture. This exotic country, wh ...

Similar topics