While we were in Berlin we took the train to Potsdam, a city southwest of Berlin and the capital of Brandenburg state. It’s a charming town, with plenty for tourists like us to see and do.
Potsdam is well known for its parks, including their largest. It was the grounds of the summer home of Frederick the Great (1712-1786), with his stunning Sanssouci palace (completed 1747) as its centerpiece. The name comes for the French word for no worries or carefree. What a perfect name for a place to which to retreat in the summer!
Sanssouci is a short walk northeast from the city center. Enter the park through this gate.
It’s a long, tree-lined walk back to the palace.
You pass this ivy-covered house and statue of Frederick the Great on the way.
As you round a corner, the palace comes into view with its terraced approach. I’m not given over to gushing, but even I was wowed by this scene.
You walk around the central fountain, which is lined with statues.
Women are heavily represented in these statues, and every last one of them is naked from at least the waist up.
So. Many. Bare. Breasts. This statue was the strangest, depicting a half-woman, half-animal with children crawling all over her. I can’t say what this was meant to convey in Frederick the Great’s time, but I don’t love the imagery now.
The artist’s preference seemed to be for perfectly round breasts with a central nipple. Even in the 1700s, depictions of women set impossible standards.
Moving on. Margaret and I had been doing a lot of walking in Europe over the preceding week and a half and our middle-aged hips were starting to crab at us. All of these steps were not welcome. But notice the iron gates spaced out on the terraces.
We’re not sure what they were originally for, but Margaret envisioned large dinner parties on these terraces with tables at each of these gates. It might have been! But Frederick the Great had them built to grow figs, grapes, and plums.
From afar, Sanssouci looked cheerful and inviting as a wide, singe-story structure in bright yellow. As we ascended the last steps to the palace, I saw the many fussy, and at times odd or severe, details. They are a sharp contrast to the distant view.
The figures all strike dramatic poses. I’m not going to show any of them up close, but if you click the photo below to go to Flickr, you can move forward and backward through this album to see some close ups. I’ll just say that there are a lot more gravity-defying, perfectly round breasts, and leave it at that.
I don’t know what this is, what it is for, or what it was called. Google didn’t turn up anything quickly.
But its intricate shadows make it fun to walk through, and to photograph.
There’s one of these on each end of the building, with a gazebo at the end.
Around back you’ll find these twin colonnades.
They part in the middle, on the building’s north side.
From there you have a clear view of these castle ruins.
We lingered around Sanssouci for a long time before making our way back down the steps. We paused on a bench to rest and look back.
Even here we found surprising and intricate detailing, like this angry fellow spewing water.
I made these photos with my Nikon Df and a 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G AF Nikkor lens.
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