Sanssouci Palace, located in Potsdam, Germany, is the former summer home of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Although it was closed when we arrived, we were able to walk in its park filled with terraced vineyards, ponds, fountains, statuary, and flowers. It was a soothing afternoon and evening, preparing us for the following city day in Berlin.
As Germany’s capital and culture center, there was plenty to see. We started with the Brandenburg Gate. A neoclassical structure built between 1788 and 1791, it was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace. It was first used as a triumphal entry portal by Napoleon in 1806 after–ironically–defeating the Prussians.
Statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are in Marx-Engels-Forum on the eastern bank of the Spree River, where we spied the Berliner Dom in the distance. We made our way over to it, and discovered the Dom has an organ with 7,000 pipes, and many royal tombs. A spiraling walk upward to the top affords a closeup look at both sculpture above and the capital below.
The Pergamon Museum, which houses Roman and Greek art collections and Babylonian and Persian antiquities, is Berlin’s most popular attraction on Museum Island. There we checked out a much older gate than the Brandenburg. The Ishtar Gate, the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon, was built around 575 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar.
Next we fast-forwarded to the 20th century. At Checkpoint Charlie, street displays tell the history leading to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, and to its destruction on November 9, 1989.
In one day we’d barely touched the richness Berlin has to offer visitors. But it was time to move on, with Poland right around the corner.