While in Berlin, we took a day trip to Potsdam, Germany, by train to see the complex of palaces and gardens. I’d seen the beauty of this place online and read about it in books, but I wasn’t prepared for how big each palace was. When considering the size of the gardens as well, it’s all much larger than it had looked online. We visited and toured nearly every building within Potsdam’s palace complex, which is located outside the main city center. They were all splendid, and I will write about all of them in time, but the Orangery Palace was by far my favorite. The architecture, the plants, the sculptures, the art collection, and the décor were all splendid, and I can’t wait to share the details of this place with you.
Location: Potsdam, Germany
Address: An d. Orangerie 3-5
14469 Potsdam, Germany
Hours: Seasonal; see hours here under “Opening Hours”
Admission Price: 19.00 € per Adult
Built: Year 1851 – 1864
Designation: UNESCO World Heritage Site
How to Reach Potsdam from Berlin
I’ll write a separate post about using the trains in Germany because it’s simple and highly convenient once you know how, but for now, I’ll tell you how we got to Potsdam from Berlin. From the main train station in Berlin (Hauptbahnhof (Hbf) means “main train station” in German), Berlin Hauptbahnhof, we took the 9:11 am train to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof. We bought our train tickets via the “Deutsch Bahn” (DB) app (Deutsch Bahn is German Train, the name of the German train system), which has a white icon with red “DB” on it in the app store, and it cost around 4€ per person.
The train ride is about half an hour long, and from the Berlin Hbf to Potsdam, there are numerous stops but ride it until the end as Potsdam is the last stop. There are no changeovers, and it’s a very convenient journey. From the Potsdam train station, it’s a 40-minute walk, but it’s lovely through town, and we stopped halfway to enjoy brunch at Keiserwetter. This darling pink floral-themed café opens around 10 am and offers plenty of vegan and gluten-free options in addition to elevated brunch fare.
There’s also the option of taking a bus, but I highly recommend walking if the weather is nice. Potsdam is a delightful, charming city. Though much of it was destroyed during World War II, much of the original architecture still stands. The rest was rebuilt in a similar style.
- Use the DB app to buy tickets for ∼4€ per person
- Ride the train until the end
- Arrive in Potsdam at the main station
- Walk or take a bus to the palace complex
About Orangery Palace
This palace was the final and largest palace built inside the Potsdam palace complex, called Sanssoucci Park, by King Frederick William IV of Prussia. He sketched the designs himself and was inspired by his love of Italian architecture discovered during his visits to Villa Medici in Rome and Uffizi in Florence. Originally intended to be part of a larger complex of buildings, Built in the Italian Renaissance style, the impressive palace is more than 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) long at the front and contains two wings between the central palace used to store and display plants from all over the world (can you guess why this place was one of my favorites?).
It also housed royalty and nobility, in addition to servants and art halls, and outside is an expansive garden, fountains, more sculptures, and terraces reminiscent of the Italian architecture that inspired it. Inside the middle building is the two-story tall Raffael Hall, which was inspired by The Vatican. Did I mention Frederick William IV really had a thing for Italian architecture?
When he wasn’t busy bringing Italian flare to Prussia (now modern-day Germany), he was also busy taking inspiration from the French. Guest rooms, called apartments, were inspired by the French Roccoco style often seen in Versailles and elsewhere, and they were meant to house his favorite sister, Alexandra Feodorovna, who moved away to Russia when she married Tsar Nicholas I.
From what we learned during our tour, he wanted to create a place she’d be happy to come back to with her husband and children. This is particularly sweet, considering they had difficult childhoods and their family, though nobility, struggled financially for much of their young lives. Though they obviously came into wealth and power later in life, I’ve heard very few examples of familial love like this throughout my travels.
Finally, there is a massive art gallery featuring replicas of famous works of art housed in a parquet floored room with a ceiling of skylights that allow for glare-free viewing of the art. Allegedly, these replicas were such great copies that some accused Frederick William IV of stealing the originals. They’ve been inspected by restorationists, historians, and art experts over the decades, all of whom agree they look nearly identical to the real things. So, enjoy the art, but know they’re not all originals.
What to Know Before Visiting Orangery Palace
I will say that this building was kept exceptionally dark inside and had very harsh lighting from spotlights, as you can see by the shadows above. I’m not sure if it’s always kept like this, or if perhaps this is something they do only during certain times of year, but some of the rooms were so dark it was difficult too see as there were no lights at all. It was a bit strange, but it did allow us to see what the palace would have been like before electricity in the dark rooms.
Also, visitors are required to wear very large, soft slippers over their shoes which are provided upon arrival. These are to protect the floors and while they are comfortable and cleaned between uses, they were very slick. I remarked that it wouldn’t be safe for an elderly person or someone who was pregnant or injured to wear those as they made walking feel treacherous. So long as you are in good health, you’ll be fine, but keep this in mind if you plan to visit with small children.
Like most palaces, castles, and other buildings of historical significance, food and beverages are not permitted inside.
Why I Loved Visiting
If this had been the only building I saw during our day trip to Potsdam, I would have considered it time very well spent, and Orangery Palace alone is worth the journey from Berlin. The architecture is gorgeous, the sculptures are sublime, the gardens are bountiful and bursting with color, and the entire palace itself made me feel as if I’d slipped back into another time. It was a beautiful historical gem that I feel privileged to have had the chance to see for myself. I loved my time in Potsdam, and I can’t wait to write more about this beautiful day trip from Berlin.
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