Germany Day 5 – S-bahn, Bus & Tram in Potsdam

Wednesday Sept 5, 2018

Krishnan and I have now figured out the Berlin “metro” system and we didn’t want to walk 1.3 kms to the Ostkruez station, so unlike the 4th of Sept, we went to the Frankfurter Allee station having decided to take the U5 to Alexanderplatz and then an S-bahn to Hackerscher Markt. We  retraced our steps from Sept 3rd only to realise that the Ring Center Mall opens out in front of the station ! So the Frankfurter Allee station got even more closer to the Airbnb that we were staying at. We just had to hang right and walk about 300 meters and the station was in front of us.
We bought an All-day pass for ABC zones for €7.70 each from a book store at the U-platform and were on our way for the Potsdam walking tour. Our guide for this tour was Jesse, an American who came as a backpacker to Berlin for a couple of months and hasn’t left since. The group was large again with 22 people. We got onto the train that went to Potsdam Hbf and it was nearly an hour’s ride. At the Potsdam Hbf station, we all got a few minutes for a bio-break and to pick up coffee or sandwiches or snacks.
Jesse had given us some background information as we waited for the train at the Hackescher Markt. Potsdam was where the Prussian Kings ruled Prussia. The members of the Hohenzollern family that became Prussia’s rulers all had names of Frederick Wilhelm or Wilhelm Frederick so some of the important Kings got nicknames. Jesse spoke of the fat and useless Frederick, the soldier king and the romantic king. I was trying to use Wikipedia to figure out who was who, and I nearly used up the free data on the Prague train and am still confused.
From whatever I could decipher, it was Frederick II also known as Frederick, the great who ruled from 1740 to 1786 built the Potsdam square and the museum barberini. The Potsdam square has the massive St. Nicholas church which was built by his son called the Romantic king on the sly because his father wouldn’t pay so build a church. The Museum Barberini has been built on the lines of the Italian barberini palace.
St Nicholas Church and the Barberini Museum, Potsdam Square
From the Potsdam square we took the tram to a place called Glienicker Brucke, where the bridge across the river Havel has been there since 1600s connecting Potsdam and Berlin. It is named after nearby Glienicke Palace. During the Cold War, this portion of the Havel River formed the border between West Berlin and East Germany. The bridge was thus used several times for the exchange of captured spies and became known as the Bridge of Spies. A portion of the movie with the same name was shot at this place. Interestingly we had watched the movie in Chennai in Jan 2016 with Rajini and her mother :).
The point where we took the tram.

The Bridge of Spies

It was at this palace that King Willhelm I asked Otto Von Bismarck to unify the loose federation of small Kingdoms into a German empire. In 1862, he appointed Bismarck as Minister President of Prussia and later in 1871 Bismarck became the Chancellor of the German empire, a position he would hold until 1890.

Glienicke Palace
From the bridge we walked into the Nuer Garten (pleasure garden), built by the Fat and useless King. It’s a massive park and at one spot, you can see the Marble palace where his wife was supposed to live and across the canal on the opposite side is the Peacock palace for his mistress Enke. From here we walked to the last of the palaces built by the Hohenzollern family, the Schloss Cicilienhof. It was completed in 1917 and right after that WWI ended and the famine hit Germany killing thousands and leading to the German revolution that ended the monarchy.  Wilhelm the 3rd and his wife Cecelia used this palace till 1945. The famous Potsdam conference with took place at this palace.
A crow? in the Nuer Garten
The marble palace
The Cecilienhof palace
The particular gate through which Churchill walked in and saw the Red star that Stalin had created 🙂
We came out to the road on the side of this palace and took the bus to reach the Potsdam Rathaus. There was a wedding going on there so we walked off towards the Nauener gate, one of the three preserved gates of Potsdam, Germany. It was built in 1755. They were used to keep the soldiers in their barracks as there was a lot of desertion during the time of the Soldier King.
Potsdam Rathaus
The Nauener gate, Potsdam
We got a 40 minutes break for lunch. Krishnan and I went to the Eco bakery and got ourselves a vegetarian open sandwich and drank the best orange juice in the adjacent store.
As we were drinking the orange juice 🙂

From here we walked towards the Brandenburg gate of Potsdam. On the way we saw the Dutch quarters where houses had been built like they were in Holland. The hope was the talented Dutch engineers would come and settle down here to help build Prussia’s infrastructure. It just remained a hope and no one from Holland came to live here. But the houses look beautiful and they are preserved still.

The Dutch Quarter, Potsdam
Just after the Dutch quarter we also saw the Peter and Paul Church built by the romantic king who built 300 churches. The present church building was completed in 1870.
Peter and Paul Church, Potsdam

The road opposite the Peter and Paul Church is the Potsdam Brandenburg gate built in 1770 built by Frederick II of Prussia. The two sides of this gate are different as they are built by two different architects.

The Potsdam Brandenburg gate
A selfie that shows the Peter and Paul church in the background, through the Brandenburg gate.

From here we took a bus and got off at the Sanssouci Palace. Sanssouci is the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. It was built between 1745 and 1747 to fulfill King Frederick’s need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. The entrance is through this tree lined avenue.

Sanssouci Castle entrance

Towards the right is the church of Peace. It is situated in the Marly Gardens on the Green Fence, part of the palace grounds. The building was dedicated on September 24, 1848, though construction continued until 1854. The structure resembles a High Medieval Italian monastery. The Church of Peace is a bit of a misnomer as in 1848, the aristocracy brutally quelled the German revolution by the liberal middle-class. The church is an impressive structure though.

The Church of Peace with a huge statue of Jesus on the outside. There is renovation happening inside the church but you can still go in and see.

We walked from the church towards the Sanssouci Palace. Even though this understated palace has just one floor and about 15 rooms, the terraced gardens on both sides as you climb the steps makes a huge impression.

The Sanssouci Palace

Frederick the great is buried here with eleven of his favourite grey hounds… even though that was his wish, it took 200 years after his death to finally bury him here, as successive Kings didn’t think it was appropriate to bury a King with his dogs.

Our tour of Potsdam ended at the Sanssouci Palace. We took another tram to reach the train station and got back to our Airbnb by 6.30 pm. A lovely tour. Infact when I told Javed that we were stopping at Berlin for a few days during our Germany trip, he immediately suggested that we visit Potsdam. So glad that we did.


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