Potsdam (German pronunciation: [ˈpɔt͡sdam] (listen)) is the capital and largest city of the German federal state of Brandenburg. It directly borders the German capital, Berlin, and is part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel some 25 kilometres (16 miles) southwest of Berlin's city centre.
Potsdam was a residence of the Prussian kings and the German Kaiser until 1918. Its planning embodied ideas of the Age of Enlightenment: through a careful balance of architecture and landscape, Potsdam was intended as "a picturesque, pastoral dream" which would remind its residents of their relationship with nature and reason.
The city lies in area of interconnected lakes and is distinguished by a series of cultural landmarks, in particular the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, the largest World Heritage Site in Germany. The Potsdam Conference in 1945 was held at Cecilienhof Palace.
Babelsberg, in the south-eastern part of Potsdam, was already by the 1930s the home of a major film production studio and it has enjoyed success as an important center of European film production since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Filmstudio Babelsberg is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world.
There are about 20 lakes and rivers in and around Potsdam, such as the Havel, the Griebnitzsee, Templiner See, Tiefer See, Jungfernsee, Teltowkanal, Heiliger See, and Sacrower See. The highest point is the 114-metre (374 ft) high Kleiner Ravensberg.
Potsdam is divided into seven historic city Bezirke and nine new Stadtteile (villages), which joined the city in 2003. The appearance of the city quarters is quite different. Those in the north and in the centre consist mainly of historical buildings, the south of the city is dominated by larger areas of newer buildings.
Today one distinguishes between the older parts of the city (areas of the historic city and places suburbanized at the latest in 1939) - these are the city center, the western and northern suburbs, Bornim, Bornstedt, Nedlitz, Potsdam South, Babelsberg, Drewitz, Stern and Kirchsteigfeld - and those communities incorporated after 1990 which have since 2003 become Stadtteile - these are Eiche, Fahrland, Golm, Groß Glienicke, Grube, Marquardt, Neu Fahrland, Satzkorn and Uetz-Paaren. The new Stadtteile are located mainly in the north of the city. For the history of all incorporations, see the relevant section on incorporation and spin-offs.
Structure with statistical numbering:
- 1 Potsdam Nord 11 Bornim 12 Nedlitz 13 Bornstedt 14 Sacrow 15 Eiche 16 Grube 17 Golm
- 2 Nördliche Vorstädte 21 Nauener Vorstadt 22 Jägervorstadt 23 Berliner Vorstadt
- 3 Westliche Vorstädte 31 Brandenburger Vorstadt 32 Potsdam West 33 Wildpark
- 4 Innenstadt 41 Nördliche Innenstadt 42 Südliche Innenstadt
- 5 Babelsberg 51 Klein Glienicke 52 Babelsberg Nord 53 Babelsberg Süd
- 6 Potsdam Süd 61 Templiner Vorstadt 62 Teltower Vorstadt 63 Schlaatz 64 Waldstadt I 65 Waldstadt II 66 Industriegelände 67 Forst Potsdam Süd
- 7 Potsdam Südost 71 Stern 72 Drewitz 73 Kirchsteigfeld
- 8 Nördliche Ortsteile 81 Uetz-Paaren 82 Marquardt 83 Satzkorn 84 Fahrland 85 Neu Fahrland 86 Groß Glienicke
Officially the climate is oceanic - more degraded by being far from the coast and to the east (Köppen: Cfb), but using the 1961-1990 normal and the 0 °C isotherm the city has a humid continental climate (Dfb), which also shows a slight influence of the continent different from the climates predominantly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. Low averages below freezing for almost all winter causing snows that are frequent and winters are cold, but not as stringent as inland locations or with greater influence from the same. Summer is also relatively warm with temperatures between 23 to 24 ° C, the heat waves being influenced by the UHI of Potsdam.
The average winter high temperature is 3.5 °C (38.3 °F), with a low of −1.7 °C (28.9 °F). Snow is common in the winter. Spring and autumn are short. Summers are mild, with a high of 23.6 °C (74.5 °F) and a low of 12.7 °C (54.9 °F).
The name "Potsdam" originally seems to have been Poztupimi. A common theory is that it derives from an old West Slavonic term meaning "beneath the oaks", i.e., the corrupted pod dubmi/dubimi (pod "beneath", dub "oak"). However some question this explanation.
The area around Potsdam shows signs of occupancy since the Bronze Age and was part of Magna Germania as described by Tacitus. After the great migrations of the Germanic peoples, Slavs moved in and Potsdam was probably founded after the 7th century as a settlement of the Hevelli tribe centred on a castle. It was first mentioned in a document in 993 as Poztupimi, when Emperor Otto III gifted the territory to the Quedlinburg Abbey, then led by his aunt Matilda. By 1317, it was mentioned as a small town. It gained its town charter in 1345. In 1573, it was still a small market town of 2,000 inhabitants.
Potsdam lost nearly half of its population due to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648).
A continuous Hohenzollern possession since 1415, Potsdam became prominent, when it was chosen in 1660 as the hunting residence of Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg, the core of the powerful state that later became the Kingdom of Prussia. It also housed Prussian barracks.
After the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Potsdam became a centre of European immigration. Its religious freedom attracted people from France (Huguenots), Russia, the Netherlands and Bohemia. The edict accelerated population growth and economic recovery.
Later, the city became a full residence of the Prussian royal family. The buildings of the royal residences were built mainly during the reign of Frederick the Great. One of these is the Sanssouci Palace (French: "without cares", by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, 1744), famed for its formal gardens and Rococo interiors. Other royal residences include the New Palace and the Orangery.
In 1815, at the formation of the Province of Brandenburg, Potsdam became the provincial capital until 1918, except for a period between 1827 and 1843 when Berlin was the provincial capital (as it became once again after 1918). The province comprised two governorates named after their capitals Potsdam and Frankfurt (Oder).
Between 1815 and 1945, the city of Potsdam served as capital of the governorate of Potsdam (German: Regierungsbezirk Potsdam). The Regierungsbezirk encompassed the former districts of Uckermark, the Mark of Priegnitz, and the greater part of the Middle March. It was situated between Mecklenburg and the Province of Pomerania on the north, and the Province of Saxony on the south and west (Berlin, with a small surrounding district, was an urban governorate and enclave within the governorate of Potsdam between 1815 and 1822, then it merged as urban district into the governorate only to be disentangled again from Potsdam governorate in 1875, becoming a distinct province-like entity on 1 April 1881). Towards the north west the governorate was bounded by the rivers Elbe and the Havel, and on the north east by the Oder. The south eastern boundary was to the neighbouring governorate of Frankfurt (Oder). About 500,000 inhabitants lived in the Potsdam governorate, which covered an area of about 20,700 square kilometres (7,992 sq mi), divided into thirteen rural districts, partially named after their capitals:
The traditional towns in the governorate were small, however, in the course of the industrial labour migration some reached the rank of urban districts. The principal towns were Brandenburg upon Havel, Köpenick, Potsdam, Prenzlau, Spandau and Ruppin. Until 1875 Berlin also was a town within the governorate. After its disentanglement a number of its suburbs outside Berlin's municipal borders grew to towns, many forming urban Bezirke within the governorate of Potsdam such as Charlottenburg, Lichtenberg, Rixdorf (after 1912 Neukölln), and Schöneberg (all of which, as well as Köpenick and Spandau, incorporated into Greater Berlin in 1920). The urban Bezirke were (years indicating the elevation to rank of urban Bezirkor affiliation with Potsdam governorate, respectively):
Berlin was the capital of Prussia and later of the German Empire, but the court remained in Potsdam, where many government officials settled. In 1914, Emperor Wilhelm II signed the Declaration of War in the Neues Palais (New Palace). The city lost its status as a "second capital" in 1918, when Wilhelm II abdicated and Germany became a Republic at the end of World War I.
At the start of the Third Reich in 1933 there was a ceremonial handshake between President Paul von Hindenburg and the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler on 21 March 1933 in Potsdam's Garrison Church in what became known as the "Day of Potsdam". This symbolised a coalition of the military (Reichswehr) and Nazism. Potsdam was severely damaged by Allied bombing raids during World War II.
The Cecilienhof Palace was the scene of the Potsdam Conference from 17 July to 2 August 1945, at which the victorious Allied leaders (Harry S. Truman; Winston Churchill and his successor, Clement Attlee; and Joseph Stalin) met to decide the future of Germany and postwar Europe in general. The conference ended with the Potsdam Agreement and the Potsdam Declaration.
The government of East Germany (formally known as the German Democratic Republic (German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR)) tried to remove symbols of "Prussian militarism". Many historic buildings, some of them badly damaged in the war, were demolished.
When in 1946 the remainder of the Province of Brandenburg west of the Oder-Neiße line was constituted as the state of Brandenburg, Potsdam became its capital. In 1952 the GDR disestablished its federal states and replaced them by smaller new East German administrative districts known as Bezirke. Potsdam became the capital of the new Bezirk Potsdam until 1990.
Potsdam, south-west of Berlin, lay just outside West Berlin after the construction of the Berlin Wall. The walling off of West Berlin not only isolated Potsdam from West Berlin, but also doubled commuting times to East Berlin. The Glienicke Bridge across the Havel connected the city to West Berlin and was the scene of some Cold War exchanges of spies.
After German reunification, Potsdam became the capital of the newly re-established state of Brandenburg. Since then there have been many ideas and efforts to reconstruct the original appearance of the city, including the Potsdam City Palace and the Garrison Church.
Since 2000 Potsdam has been one of the fastest growing cities in Germany.
Largest groups of foreign residents:
Potsdam has had a mayor (Bürgermeister) and city council since the 15th century. From 1809 the city council was elected, with a mayor (Oberbürgermeister) at its head. During the Third Reich the mayor was selected by the NSDAP and the city council was dissolved; it was reconstituted in token form after 1945, but free elections did not take place until after reunification.
Today, the city council is the city's central administrative authority. Local elections took place on 26 October 2003 and again in 2008. Between 1990 and 1999, the Chairman of the City Council was known as the "Town President" but today the post is the "Chairman of the City Council". The mayor is elected directly by the population.
Potsdam, included in the fare zone "C" (Tarifbereich C) of Berlin's public transport area and fare zones A and B of its own public transport area, is served by the S7 S-Bahn line. The stations served are Griebnitzsee, Babelsberg and the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof), the main and long-distance station of the city. Other DB stations in Potsdam are Charlottenhof, Park Sanssouci (including the monumental Kaiserbahnhof), Medienstadt Babelsberg, Rehbrücke, Pirschheide and Marquardt. The city also possesses a 27 km-long tramway network.
Potsdam is served by several motorways: the A 10, a beltway better known as Berliner Ring, the A 115 (using part of the AVUS) and is closely linked to the A 2 and A 9. The B 1 and B 2 federal roads cross the city. Potsdam features a network of urban and suburban buses.
Education and research
Potsdam is a university town. The University of Potsdam was founded in 1991 as a university of the State of Brandenburg. Its predecessor was the Akademie für Staats- und Rechtswissenschaften der DDR "Walter Ulbricht", a college of education founded in 1948 which was one of the GDR's most important colleges. There are about 20,000 students enrolled at the university.
There are also several research foundations, including Fraunhofer Institutes for Applied Polymer Research and Biomedical Engineering, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, and Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, the GFZ - German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Potsdam Astrophysical Institute, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, The Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, which employs 340 people in researching climate change.
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 most popular attraction in Potsdam is Sanssouci Park, 2 km (1 mi) 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 a botanical garden (Botanical Garden, Potsdam) and many buildings:
- The Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci), a relatively modest palace of the Prussian royal (and later 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 held off the combined attacks of Austria and Russia. 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. Today, it houses parts of University of Potsdam.
- 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 Friedrich 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 18th-century pavilion built in a Chinese style, the fashion of the time.
Three gates from the original city wall remain today. The oldest is the Hunters' Gate (Jägertor), built in 1733. The Nauener Tor was built in 1755 and close to the historic Dutch Quarter. The ornate Brandenburg Gate (built in 1770, not to be confused with the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin) is situated on the Luisenplatz at the western entrance to the old town.
The Old Market Square (Alter Markt) is Potsdam's historical city 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 Allied bombing in 1945 and demolished in 1961 by the Communist authorities. In 2002 the Fortuna Gate (Fortunaportal) was rebuilt in its original historic position which was followed by a complete reconstruction of the palace as the Brandenburg Landtag building inaugurated in 2014. Nearby the square in the Humboldtstraße block, which also was demolished after getting damaged in 1945, reconstructions of several representative residential palaces including Palazzo Pompei and Palazzo Barberini housing an arts museum were completed in 2016-2017 alongside with buildings with modernized facades to restore the historical proportions of the block.
The Old Market Square is dominated today by the dome of St. Nicholas' Church (Nikolaikirche), built in 1837 in the Neoclassical 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. To the south lies the Museum Barberini, a copy of the previous building, the Barberini Palace. The museum was funded by the German billionaire Hasso Plattner. The former Baroque building was built by Carl von Gontard in 1771–1772, inspired by the Renaissance palace Palazzo Barberini in Rome. The newly built museum was scheduled to open in spring 2017.
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 artisans and craftsmen who had been invited to settle here by King Frederick Wilhelm I. Today, this area is one of Potsdam's most visited quarters.
North of the city centre is the Russian colony of 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 part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin.
East of the Alexandrowka colony is a large park, the New Garden (Neuer Garten), which was laid out from 1786 in the English style. The site contains two palaces; one of them, the Cecilienhof, was where the Potsdam Conference was held in July and August 1945. The Marmorpalais (Marble Palace) was built in 1789 in Neoclassical style. Nearby is the Biosphäre Potsdam, a tropical botanical garden.
Babelsberg, a quarter south-east of the centre, houses the UFA film studios (Babelsberg Studios), and an extensive park with some historical buildings, including the Babelsberg Palace (Schloß Babelsberg, a Gothic revival palace designed by Schinkel).
Potsdam also features a memorial centre in the former KGB prison in Leistikowstraße. In the Volkspark to the north, there is one of the last monuments dedicated to Lenin in Germany.
There are many parks in Potsdam, most of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among their attractions are:
- 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam, one of the most successful German female football clubs (Bundesliga (women))
- Potsdam Royals  , American football team competing in the German Football League.
- SV Babelsberg 03, football club Regionalliga Nordost
- Olympic Training Centre Potsdam (de)
- USV Potsdam, Rugby union (2nd Rugby-Bundesliga) and Football (Kreisklasse)
- List of football clubs in Potsdam
- The Potsdamer Schlössermarathon (Potsdam Palace Marathon) is a marathon in that is held annually in June. Thousands of runners run the course past the palaces for the half marathon and several hundred repeat the course to complete the full marathon.
- Abraham Abramson (1754–1811), medalist
- Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg (1759-1830), Prussian field marshal
- Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835), scholar and statesman, founder of the Berlin Humboldt University
- Frederick William III of Prussia (1770–1840), King of Prussia 1797–1840
- Wilhelm Ludwig Viktor Henckel von Donnersmarck (1775–1849), Prussian general lieutenant
- Eleonore Prochaska (1785–1813), woman soldier during the liberation war, unrecognized as a man disguised as a drummer, later as an infantryman in the Prussian army against Napoleon
- Moritz Hermann von Jacobi (1801–1874), physicist and engineer
- Ludwig Persius (1803–1845), architect
- Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi (1804–1851), mathematician
- Philipp Galen (1813–1899), writer and physician
- Julius Lange (numismatist) (1815-1905), numismatist
- Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–1894), physiologist and physicist, one of the most important natural scientists of his time
- Alfred Bonaventura von Rauch (1824-1900), Prussian general
- Frederick III, German Emperor (1831–1888), Emperor of the German Empire and King of Prussia 1888
- Alfred von Waldersee (1832–1904), field marshall
- Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919), zoologist, philosopher
- Gottlieb Graf von Haeseler (1836-1919), Prussian field marshal
- Hermann Schubert (1848–1911), mathematician
- Heinrich Köhler (1852–1920), writer
- Wilhelm II, German Emperor (1859–1941), Emperor of the German Empire and King of Prussia 1888–1918
- Friedrich Ludwig (1872–1930), music historian and rector of the University of Göttingen
- Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing (1873–1956), Egyptologist
- Elisabeth von Knobelsdorff (1877–1959), engineer and architect
- Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia (1883–1942), second son of King William II of Prussia
- Ludowika Jakobsson (1884–1968; born Eilers), Olympic player 1920 and triple world champion in figure skating
- Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg (1886–1974), general of tank troops and military attachée
- Paul Blobel (1894–1951), Nazi war criminal, hanged for war crimes
- Margarete Buber-Neumann née Thüring (1901–1989), writer (As a prisoner with Hitler and Stalin, From Potsdam to Moscow)
- Egon Eiermann (1904–1970), architect
- Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1907–1994), since 1933 German and Prussian heir to the throne and since 1951 until his death head of the house of Hohenzollern
- Princess Marie Eleonore of Albania (1909–1957)
- Adam von Trott zu Solz (1909–1944), lawyer, diplomat and resistance fighter
- Carol Victor, Hereditary Prince of Albania (1913–1973), was the only son of William, Prince of Albania
- Peter Weiss (1916–1982), writer, graphic artist and painter
- Hans Richter (actor) (1919–2008), actor
- Bernhard Hassenstein (1922–2016), biologist and co-founder of biological cybernetics
- Burkhard Heim (1925–2001), explosives technician, physicist and scholar
- Günther Schramm (born 1929), stage and television actor, television supporter and singer
- Hilla Becher (1934–2015), photographer
- Nicole Heesters (born 1937), actress, daughter of Johannes Heesters
- Manfred Wolke (born 1943), Olympian boxer and boxing coach
- Klaus Katzur (1943–2016), swimming athlete and silver medalist (Olympic Games 1972)
- Wolfgang Joop (born 1944), fashion designer
- Oliver Bendt (born 1946), alias Jürgen Koch, actor, gymnast, singer
- Christiane Lanzke (born 1947), water jumper and actress
- Lothar Doering (born 1950), handball player and coach
- Brigitte Ahrenholz (born 1952), rower
- Matthias Platzeck (born 1953), politician Minister President of the State of Brandenburg, SPD Chairman
- Klaus Thiele (born 1958), athlete
- Gabriele Berg (born 1963), Professor for Mikrobiology at the Graz University (Austria)
- Ralf Brudel (born 1963), rower
- Jens-Peter Berndt (born 1963), swimmer
- Birgit Peter (born 1964), rower, multiple Olympian girlfriend
- Carsten Wolf (born 1964), cyclist, world champion
- Daniela Neunast (born 1966), steward in rowing
- René Monse (born 1968), heavyweight boxer
- Klara Geywitz (born 1976), politician
- 1845: Wilhelm Ludwig Viktor Henckel von Donnersmarck, Lieutenant General
- 1856: Friedrich von Wrangel, Field Marshal
- 1863: Peter Joseph, garden general director
- 1891: Hermann von Helmholtz, naturalist
- 1905: Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, president of the province of Brandenburg
- 1933: Paul von Hindenburg, Fieldmarshal and Reichspräsident
- 1933: Adolf Hitler, chancellor (withdrawn 15 August 1990 by a decision of the Potsdam City Council)
- 1955: Max Volmer, physical chemist
- 1960: Hans Marchwitza
- 1965: Otto Nagel