Thursday, September 27, 2007
This article is about the German city of Potsdam. There is also Potsdam, New York, in the United States of America.
For the Potsdam Conference, see Potsdam Conference.
Potsdam [ˈpɔtsdam] is the capital city of the federal state of Brandenburg in Germany. It is situated on the Havel River, southwest of Berlin. It is a part of the Metropolitan area Berlin/Brandenburg.
Potsdam is known as the former residence of the Prussian kings until 1918. The city features a series of interconnected lakes and unique cultural landscapes, in particular the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, the largest World Heritage Sites in Germany.
The Potsdam district of Babelsberg also serves as one of the leading centers of European film production. The Filmstudio Babelsberg has significant historical value as the oldest large-scale film studio in the world. The Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg frequently records soundtracks for domestic and foreign-based film productions.
The city developed into a center of science in Germany since the 19th century. Today there are 3 public colleges and more than 30 research-institutes in Potsdam.
Potsdam has had a mayor (Bürgermeister) and city council since the fifteenth century. From 1809 the city council was elected, with a mayor (Oberbürgermeister) at its head. In the Third Reich the mayor was selected by the NSDAP and the city council dissolved; it was reconstituted in token form after the Second World War, but free elections did not take place until after reunification.
Today the city council is the central administrative organ of the city. The last local elections took place on 26 October 2003, with the next in 2008. From 1990 to 1999 the Chairman of the city council was known as the "town president". Today this person is called simply the "chairman of the city council". The mayor is elected directly. In the last mayoral election, on 22 September 2002, no candidate gained an overall majority, and a run-off election was held between Jann Jakobs (SPD) and Hans-Jürgen Scharfenberg (PDS), with Jann Jakobs gaining the narrowest of victories, with 50.1%.
The Landtag Brandenburg, the parliament of the federal state of Brandenburg is situated in the capital Potsdam. It is planned to move into the building of the Potsdam City Palace, after the end of the reconstruction in 2011.
Potsdam has city partnerships with the following cities:
Education and research
Potsdam was historically a centre of European immigration. Its religious tolerance attracted people from France, Russia, the Netherlands, and Bohemia. This is still visible in the culture and architecture of the city.
The attraction that draws most visitors to Potsdam is Park Sanssouci, 2 km west of the city centre. In 1744 King Frederick the Great ordered the construction of a residence here, where he could live sans souci ("without worries", in the French spoken at the court). The park hosts many magnificent buildings:
The Old Market Square (Alter Markt) is Potsdam's historical centre. For three centuries this was the site of the City Palace (Stadtschloß), a royal palace built in 1662. Under Frederick the Great, the palace became the winter residence of the Prussian kings. The palace was severely damaged by bombing in 1945 and demolished in 1961 by the Communist authorities. In 2002 the Gate of Fortune (Fortunaportal) was rebuilt in its original historic position, which marks the first step in the reconstruction of the palace. The Old Market Square is dominated today by the dome of the Nicolas Church (Nikolaikirche), built in 1837 in the classical style. It was the last work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who designed the building but did not live to see its completion. It was finished by his disciples Friedrich August Stüler and Ludwig Persius. The eastern side of the Market Square is dominated by the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus), built in 1755 by the Dutch architect Jan Bouman (1706-1776). It has a characteristic circular tower, crowned with a gilded Atlas bearing the world on his shoulders.
North of the Old Market Square is the oval French Church (Französische Kirche), erected in the 1750s by Boumann for the Huguenot community, and the Brandenburg Gate (built in 1770, not to be confused with the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin).
Another landmark of Potsdam is the two-street Dutch Quarter (Holländisches Viertel), an ensemble of buildings that is unique in Europe, with about 150 houses built of red bricks in the Dutch style. It was built between 1734 and 1742 under the direction of Jan Bouman to be used by Dutch craftsmen who had been invited to settle here by King Frederick Wilhelm I. Today this area is one of Potsdam's most visited neighborhoods.
North of the city center is the Russian colony Alexandrowka, a small enclave of Russian architecture (including an Orthodox chapel) built in 1825 for a group of Russian immigrants. Since 1999 the colony has been a UNESCO world heritage site.
East of the Alexandrowka colony is a large park, the New Garden (Neuer Garten), which was laid out beginning in 1786 in the English style. The site contains two palaces—one of them, the Palace Cecilienhof, where the Potsdam Conference was held in July and August, 1945. The Marble Palace was built in 1789 in the style of Classicism.
Another interesting area of Potsdam is Babelsberg, a quarter east of the centre, housing the UFA film studios (Babelsberg Studios), and an extensive park with some interesting buildings, including the Babelsberg Palace (Schloß Babelsberg, a neo-Gothic palace designed by Schinkel). The Einstein Tower was built between 1920 and 1924 by architect Erich Mendelsohn on the top of the Telegraphenberg.
There are many parks in Potsdam, most of them belonging to UNESCO World Heritage sites. Some of them are:
The Belvedere near Park Sanssouci
View from Park Babelsberg to Berlin.
The Chinese House
Castle of Babelsberg
The Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci), a relatively modest palace of the Prussian royal and German imperial family
The Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss), former palace for foreign royal guests
The New Palace (Neues Palais), built between 1763 and 1769 to celebrate the end of the Seven Years' War, in which Prussia ousted Austria from its centuries-long role as the dominant power in German affairs. It is a much larger and grander palace than Sanssouci, having over 200 rooms and 400 statues as decoration. It served as a guest house for numerous royal visitors.
The Charlottenhof Palace (Schloss Charlottenhof), a Neoclassical palace by Karl Friedrich Schinkel built in 1826
The Roman Baths (Römische Bäder), built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Ludwig Persius in 1829-1840. It is a complex of buildings including a tea pavilion, a Renaissance-style villa, and a Roman bathhouse (from which the whole complex takes its name).
The Chinese Tea House (Chinesisches Teehaus), an eighteenth-century pavilion built in a Chinese style, which was the fashion of the time.
Posted by gigihong07 at 10:57 AM