Curious about the story behind the many palaces in Berlin, Serene Tseng sets off to discover them.
Set off on the trail of the Hohenzollerns, from Prussian kings and their palaces to images of a bygone era.
The mere utterance of their name brings back images of grand palaces built during a bygone era. The House of Hohenzollern of Brandenburg- Prussia came to power in 1415 and produced Prussian kings and emperors for the following 500 years, but while the royal family may have ended their rule after WWI, traces of their influence are still evident throughout Berlin. A fun way to learn about the family’s history is by visiting the KPM porcelain factory museum (p. 36), which traces centuries of Hohenzollern history, hand-painted on the porcelain they had made for their palaces.
As the ruling family, the Hohenzollerns had the means to commission many of the palaces in Berlin, the most famous being Charlottenburg Palace. Built in 1695 for Sophie Charlotte, wife of King Friedrich I, it was meant to be an idyllic summer palace, complete with beautiful Baroque and Rococo architecture, a belvedere, and garden. Nowadays, the palace houses a museum with Hohenzollern artifacts. Not far from the Schloß is the late-18thcentury Bellevue Palace, now the official residence of the president of Germany. Situated inside Tiergarten park, its location gives the cleanly- designed palace its name, meaning “beautiful view” in French. In eastern Berlin is the Friedrichsfelde Palace, now part of the Tierpark zoo. Several princes and princesses were born in this late-17th- century palace, including Louis Ferdinand, the grandson of Sophie Charlotte. In its later history, the palace was occupied by the Red Army after WWII and had a career change during the Cold War, serving as a storehouse and animal clinic for the Tierpark. Farther south is the Köpenick Palace, the oldest of them all. Built in 1558 as the hunting lodge for Elector Joachim II Hector, this Renaissance castle sits on the foundations of a 6th- century Slavic castle. But the most famous of them all is the Schloß Sanssouci in Potsdam, which was built in the intricate Rococo style for Friedrich the Great as his place of retreat from hectic Berlin.
"The mere utterance of their name brings back images of grand palaces."