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Castles? Sanssouci, Charlottenburg, Wernigerode?

Really torn about how much time to spend in Potsdam @ Sanssouci; if viewing the grounds is enough or do we really NEED to go inside? We have been to other castles along the Rhine & if time permits while in Berlin we may go to Charlottenburg palace, again would love to see the grounds but not really sure we'll want to a) take the time to go inside b) see anything really noteworthy other than wealthy accommodations? Same goes for Wernigerode, all travel is by our own car so not an issue of transit. 4 active adults traveling, not really museum seekers - will be cycling quite a bit of the time as well. Thank you for any suggestions! .

Posted by
1494 posts

First: in Berlin and Potsdam you will find palaces, no castles with defense purposes.

Second: the Potsdam palaces are unique UNESCO world cultural heritage and differ very much from the Rhine Valley castles and palaces - they are simply a league of its own as representation of the upcoming fifth power in Europe.

Third: you can have a virtual tour through Sanssouci Palace art gallery and the overview page gives access to a lot of high-class photos from in- and outside. But this is just a fraction of the experience standing inside these buildings.

My recommendation: if you just want to see and look an outside walk may be enough. BUT: if you want to dive into and feel a little bit of the splendor of this era an inside tour is essential. You will never forget these impressions of Frederician Rococo and the flavours of these palaces - from "lust house" (Sanssouci) to "representation and work space" (New Palace).

Posted by
434 posts

I've been to both Sansscouci and Charlottenburg palaces. I think they're both worth a visit inside, but that was the main reason I was going. For Charlottenburg, we used the available self-guided tour with headphones. This was back in 2008, so not sure if they offer that now. We went to Sanssouci with my college daughter's class, so we had a guided tour there.
I'm not sure what you would consider noteworthy, but the palaces are sumptuous and interesting (to me) with a lot of art.

Posted by
18373 posts

It's been about 14 years now (2008) since I toured the Schloß at Wernigerode, so I can't remember much about the interior details, but I don't remember thinking as I left that it had been a waste of time. It's a pretty building with a great view.

I thought the Schloß was a pretty and interesting edifice regardless of it's not being a defensive castle. I think I remember that it was a hunting lodge for a duke or a stopover place for his journeys to somewhere else.

From Wernigerode, there is a narrow gauge steam train up to the summit of the Brocken, the highest point in northern Germany, and the site of Stasi "listening" antennas that sought to intercept communication to Berlin during the cold war.

Wernigerode itself is a worthwhile town to visit with a lot of preserve fachwerk buildings. I understand that, during the cold war, East Germany pumped a lot of money into Wernigerode to make it appear as a pleasant place when they showed visitors how nice East Germany was.

Posted by
3078 posts

I personally feel like if you've seen the inside of one palace, you've seen the inside of all palaces. Wealthy digs for wealthy people. I was perfectly happy to walk the grounds at Sanssouci without going inside. I will say that Cecilienhof at Potsdam is an exception to the palace rule above due to its unique tudor architecture but more importantly due to its history as the location of the Potsdam Conference at the end of WWII. The meeting room for Stalin, Churchill, and Truman is still set up as it was for the conference. Super cool. But I am a big WWII buff.