Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Greeting the Potsdam visitor
In my first blog in 2012, I not only mentioned the 300th birthday of Frederick the Great commemorated in Germany, but I also reflected on the character of this Prussian king joining Schiller in his remark: I cannot get fond of that guy.

Presently in Frederick's residence, Potsdam, an exhibition in the New Palace named Friederisiko, tries to retrace the Prussian king's life, the title alluding to his frequently playing vabanque when at war. All through his early life, Frederick moaned: I must fight three women, Maria-Theresa of Austria, Madame de Pompadour of France, and Elisabeth of Russia. It is a historical fact that the sudden death of one of Frederick's archenemies, the Tsarina, averted Prussia's total military defeat. Her son and successor Peter, the king's great admirer, agreed to an armistice. This unexpected turn became known as the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg.

Following the peace-treaty of Hubertusburg, Frederick started not only rebuilding his country but also completing the park of Sans,souci. In constructing the New Palace, he wanted to show to the world that Prussia was still not on her knees, even had the financial resources to build such a useless building. In fact, Frederick preferred living in Sans,souci palace, and only used the New Palace for official receptions and for housing his guests. His successors preferred to stay in Berlin, Prussia's capital, and when in Potsdam resided in the cozier Charlottenhof.

Plan of the park of Sans,souci with important buildings marked in red.
To the right, the vineyard terrace leading up to Sans,souci palace.
The round building in the lower middle is the tea pavilion to the left, the New Palace.
Far in the south, the small red dot is Charlottenhof.

At the entrance to Sans,souci Fredrick's revenant playing traverse flute asks for an obol.
In the back, the famous historic windmill.

Sans,souci under thunderclouds

The comma behind sans -- does it allude to Frederick's missing virile member?
It had been amputated in his young years following an infection of gonorrhea.
 Historians are still discussing the issue, including Frederick's sexual preferences.

Our guide honoring Frederick's tomb with a potato as other tourists had done before.
Fredrick had introduced the potato in Brandenburg, a crop well suited for the sandy ground.
There is the story that Prussian soldiers fed on potatoes fought better
than soldiers of enemy armies still depending on cereals.

View of Sans,souci from below. The grapes today grown on the wine terrace are Scheurebe.
At the time of Fredrick, gardeners tried out many different varieties
with the aim of delivering grapes to the king who was crazy about fresh fruit of all kinds.
Frederick was willing to pay a fortune for a handful of cherries in February.

The tea pavilion in the park is constructed in what people thought to be Chinese style.
It was à la mode at the time of Frederick.
The nuns had come all the way from Poland to honor a guy who did not care about religion:
Every man should go to heaven in his own way.

Apparently the Chinese not only invented, papel, gun powdel, and polcelain
but also the saxophone!

Frederick everywhere and in all forms.
Here with a hat made from porcelain inviting tourists to buy chinaware
 made in the Royal Prussian Porcelain Manufactory

Even in the hotel on our way to breakfast, a plastic sculpture bid us Good Morning.
While the guided tour concentrated on Frederick's Potsdam, we also visited Rheinsberg, where as a young man far away from his father's knout, the Prince had felt happy writing poetry, making music, and partying with friends. Frederick wrote: My entire mind is turned to philosophy. It does me good services. I am happy for I am much calmer than before. 

Rheinsberg castle seen from the lakeside with our group standing in front.

Young Frederick. His statue in Rheinsberg.

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