We visited Potsdam, also known as the "Prussian Versailles", the capital of the State of Brandenburg, in early October. It was not our first trip to Potsdam. However, our last stay was about 20 years ago. In the period after 1989 the preservation of Potsdam’s valuable architecture was greatly improved. Castles and parks were and are still refurbished. The town centre became more vivid and the Dutch Quarter was rebuilt from ruins. Unfortunately we couldn't explore all important places. We are sure that Potsdam will see us again...
A short overview of Potsdam's history is provided in the next paragraph.
It can be safely assumed, that the Heveller, people of a Slavian tribe, were the first settlers in today's Potsdam area. Imperator Otto III. transferred the settlements Poztumpimi et Geliti to his aunt the abbess of Quedlinburg in 993.
The first written source dates back to 1304 when Potsdam was mentioned under the name Postamp. Although being under municipal law since 1345, the town was an unimportant spot of earth before being "discovered" by the Hohenzollern. The people lived primarily from fishery.
In 1416, Friedrich I. built a bridge over the river Havel to the island Potsdam. The ascendance of Potsdam began.
Two big fires destroyed the town almost completely in 1536 and 1550. Only the castle was unaffected by these fires. The town was built up in splendour and the castle was rebuilt as a town palace. These dates can also be considered as the start of the construction of pleasure gardens.
The thirty years war marked the end of palace and gardens. The settlement of emigrants from France started in 1685. About 20,000 Huguenots brought new prosperity to the town.
1745, at the beginning of Sanssouci's construction, Potsdam's next period of glory began. This continued up to the end of the 18th century.
With the defeat of Prussia by Napoleon in 1806 the town was brought on the verge of ruin. In 1814, at the end of the Napoleonic rule in Europe, Potsdam looked forward to better times. Castle Charlottenhof, castle Glienicke and castle Babelsberg were built after the end of Napoleon's domination in Europe. The extensive building activities were completed with the construction of castle Cecilienhof in 1917.
Although Potsdam was not affected by bigger demolitions during World War II, it was laid in ruins by RAF bomb attacks at the end of the war. Sanssouci was unscathed by bombs only due to favourable wind directions.
After the war, the Potsdam conference ("Potsdam Conference") convened at castle Cecilienhof. This conference regulated the future democratization, demilitarization, denazification and de-centralisation of Germany.
During the GDR time Potsdam was the capital of a GDR state. This was not necessarily an advantage. Most of the old buildings were demolished and the typical GDR architecture dominated the town. 1989, after the re-unification, Potsdam's glory started once again. The town is the capital of the state Brandenburg now; in 1990 it obtained the status of an UNESCO World Heritage Site. And thus we have arrived at the present time.