Potsdam is the capital of the state of Brandenburg, beautifully built on a meander of the river Havel. With its 152,000 inhabitants, it is the only major city close to Berlin. It is, moreover, inseparable from it, integrated into the functioning of the metropolis. In the past, Berlin naturally extended southwards to the "Potsdam Islands". The German separation drew a border between West Berlin and Potsdam. But today, the wound is closing and Potsdam is once again becoming a centre of the Berlin conurbation, even its "rich belt". Green and full of exciting sites, it is also lively and academic.
This is a must for Berlin tourism. Comparable to Versailles for Paris, it is the city of the Sanssouci Palace, the former summer residence of the Prussian emperors, a jewel of the rococo which has one of the most beautiful parks in Germany. Very well connected to Berlin by the S-Bahn, it is a favourite weekend destination for Berliners because of the charms of its centre, parks and lakes.
Founded in the middle of the 13th century, Potsdam only gained importance in the 1660s, when the Elector Frederick William, father of the first King of Prussia, elected the town as his second home. From then on, Potsdam was to become, alongside Berlin, the residence of the kings of Prussia, a showcase of enlightened absolutism. Castle, gardens, parks and churches were to become the symbol of Prussian power and the Enlightenment that the despots patronized. The most decisive reign was that of Frederick the Great in the 18th century. In Potsdam, a Voltaire to the key, the monarch brought the Prussian Baroque and Rococo to their apogee with the development of the Sanssouci site.
With the abolition of the monarchy, Potsdam lost its importance, but the city remained a symbolic place in the 20th century, as evidenced by the Potsdam Conference held from 17 July to 2 August 1945 between the victors of the Second World War. Although Potsdam suffered destruction during the war, the heart of the Old Town has been very well restored and the Rococo "Federico" is still omnipresent today. Potsdam is the largest German ensemble on the UNESCO heritage list. Potsdam can be visited in one day. Since Sanssouci is rich in discoveries, it is best to get up early in the morning to have time to see everything, the castle, the park, but also the old town and Babelsberg. Coming between April and October is the best choice, as the gardens are at the height of their splendour.