If King Friedrich the Great knew anything, it was how to build a good Schloss! Sanssouci Park is covered in palaces, churches, galleries and even Roman Baths. The gardens are so extensive that you need at least a day to make the most of your ticket. The Sanssouci+ costs 21 Euros online or 19 Euro on arrival. All entrances to Schloss Sanssouci are timed. If possible, get a 10am slot, so that you can make it to all the other palaces in a relaxed manner. The gardens are huge, with a good two kilometres between the two main palaces, so you do not want to be sprinting from one palace to the next, as we saw one gentleman doing in the afternoon! You can always arrive earlier than your timed entrance and explore the smaller buildings first, which is what we did.
Be aware that Schloss Sanssouci is closed Mondays and the New Palace is closed Tuesdays. We arrived on a Tuesday and still did not have time to see everything, despite the New Palace being closed, so try not to worry too much. After a day of walking through hedged walkways, across expansive lawns and into several royal buildings, you will not leave disappointed!
With its expansive, elaborately decorated rooms, terraced gardens and grand entrance, Schloss Sanssouci is a masterpiece of rococo style. It was built as a Summer Palace for King Friedrich II, better known as Friedrich the Great. This man was a lover of the arts, music, literature and entertainment, which is reflected in the opulent picture galleries, library, music chambers and colourful guest rooms. Everything was designed to impress, right down to the pretty pink lounge chairs in the entrance hall, which are far too narrow to sit down on!
Sans Souci is a French phrase, which translates to Without concerns – a very fitting name for such a delightful pleasure palace! After taking a tour of the grand rooms, be sure to take a walk into the kitchens and servant quarters, which show a much simpler, more humble style of living. After visiting the palace, walk down the hill through the terraced vineyards and admire the palace from afar.
The Picture Gallery
As described above, Friedrich the Great was a lover of the arts, so much so that he had his own picture gallery designed in a separate building, just east of the palace. The long room, covered in gilded ceiling decorations, has windows along one side and paintings covering every other surface. And not just any paintings! Inside, you can spend hours browsing and learning about works by Caravaggio, Van Dyck and Rubens. It is worth picking up the audio guide (included in the ticket) for some interesting insights into selected paintings.
The New Chambers
Built on the western side of the palace, the New Chambers (built as guest rooms) replaced an old Orangery, which was then rebuilt in a different area of the park. We ran out of time to go inside this building, though it was just as splendid seeing it from the outside. Approaching the yellow building though tall hedges and up a flight of stairs, with a historic windmill behind it, you can look down onto a magnificent array of grape vines planted in front of the palace.
The New Palace
This grand, baroque style palace was built for Friedrich the Great in order to celebrate Prussia’s success at the end of the Seven Years’ War. It was not his main residence, but was rather used to receive important visitors and to show off his wealth and power! With over 200 rooms, Friedrich only occasionally occupied a suite of rooms at one end of the palace. It was largely used for royal functions and balls. Unfortunately, we were unable to take a tour of this building, as it was closed on Tuesdays. However, it is definitely worth admiring it from afar, as it glitters in the sunlight!
The Orangery Palace, Belvedere and Dragon House
The Orangery Palace, as its name suggests, is a huge building, with large glass windows and internal heating, made to house the royal citrus orchard. Built by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV from 1851, Friedrich the Great would have been proud! The Winter months in Germany can get very cold, so during this time, the plants would be taken inside. Timed tours can be taken through the guest rooms in the back of the palace, which are included in the ticket price. Translated English sheets are supplied for non-German speakers.
A short walk further West will take you too an old, neglected Belvedere and the Dragon House, now used as a tea house. Both buildings are very pretty and worth a look if you have a bit of time to spare.
The Church of Peace
This Protestant church, surrounded by gardens, is located a short walk from the main palace and was built for King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia. It is very pleasant to stroll through the gardens and admire the Romanesque Revival style of the building. A refreshing change after the elaborate furnishings of the palace!
The Chinese Tea House
As you walk down from the palace and through the park, you will come across this gloriously decorated circular tea pavilion, surrounded by golden statues of oriental figures playing different musical instruments. Built for Friedrich the Great, this building was decorative, as well as being used for small social gatherings.
The Roman Baths
Located a short walk from Schloss Charlottenhof, this building was commissioned by Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (later King Friedrich Wilhelm IV). As you walk inside the courtyard, you are presented with a fountains, colourful gardens and classical Roman style statues and baths. Interestingly, we learnt from the attendants that these baths were never actually used for their primary function, as bathing was not a common activity in those times! Currently, the main building houses an excellent photographic exhibition of images around the park during different seasons.
This modest palace is located southwest of Sanssouci, in the far corner of the park and was also commissioned by Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm as his Summer Palace. The pretty building opens onto green lawns, a fountain, statues and grape vines. You can take a timed tour through the building, see the cupboard which contains a secret staircase to the servants chambers, as well as the fashionable ‘tent’ room. Tours are in German, but an English translation is supplied.
As you can imagine, you might be a bit exhausted by the end of the day and you may not get around to seeing everything you hoped. My suggestion is to see the buildings in this order, so that you are not criss-crossing all over the park like a flustered princess. Take a picnic for lunch and plenty of water. We were lucky to have homemade spinach and cheese pasties, nougat and lemon sweets to keep us going throughout the day. Don’t rush, take time to enjoy the gardens and long, leisurely walks, just as Friedrich did, and the Friedrich before him…and the one before him!