Schloss Charlottenburg

Berlin, Germany | C.1713

Photo Credit: Josephine Mok

Sophia Charlotte, the Electress of Bradenburg, led an electrifying life indeed. Born in 1668, the German noblewoman went on to become the first Queen consort in Prussia, and left quite a legacy. Though none of her gifts to Germany may be as large as the Charlottenburg Palace.

Charlotte acquired the palace in 1695 when it was still referred to as Lietzow. But her motivation to renovate the property was not born of great architectural desires or fancy interiors – Charlotte simply wanted space from her husband. She was married to King Frederick William I, and allegedly, the monarch was so in love with his Queen that he ignored the services of his provided mistress – but Charlotte didn’t feel the same.

Charlotte couldn’t care less for her husband, nor his loyalty to her, and happily relocated to the Lietzow Palace. She lived there independently where she enhanced its gardens, expanded her court, surrounded herself with philosophers and theologians, and only allowed King Frederick to visit by invitation.

She indulged in the arts, played the harpsichord, built an Italian opera theater, and learned to speak French, English, and Italian fluently. It’s said that even Peter the Great was left speechless upon first meeting her, as he was so intimidated by her commanding presence.

So when Sophia Charlotte passed away in 1705, it’s no wonder that the palace in which she resided was given her name. It was King Frederick who renamed the estate Charlottenburg Palace, also known as Schloss Charlottenburg – a final offering to the woman he so desperately loved, but who in return, very much loved herself.

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