This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
When Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, needed to escape the hustle and bustle of royal life, he retreated to Sanssouci, his beloved summer palace of in Potsdam, Germany. Sanssouci is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles, and while it is in a more intimate Rococo style and far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park.
Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff designed the palace 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 palace’s name emphasizes this: it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as “without concerns.”
Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story villa containing just ten principal rooms. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterized as “Frederician Rococo.” His feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived it as “a place that would die with him.”
But it did not die with him. In fact, during the 19th century the palace became a residence of Frederick William IV. He employed the architect Ludwig Persius to restore and enlarge the palace. The town of Potsdam, with its palaces, remained a favorite place of residence for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918.
After World War II, the palace became a tourist attraction in East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Frederick’s body was returned to the palace and buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created. Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
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