Tour 6 - Frederick II – King and Architect

back to overview

Frederick II - King and Architect

A Walking Tour Through Potsdam


Frederick II, also known as "Frederick the Great", ruled from 1740 to 1786 as King of Prussia and thereby of Potsdam. In 1744, he somewhat reluctantly decided to follow his great-grandfather's, the Prince-Elector's, plan to expand building in Potsdam in order to make it his second royal city of residence after Berlin. The Sanssouci Palace and the City Palace are two major testaments to the king's activities; the architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff was commissioned to build the one and modify the other. The king also had a plan for the city itself.

His father, the "Soldier King" Frederick William I had himself, for all intents and purposes, founded Potsdam once again as a military stronghold. There was no long-standing historical architectural tradition nor members of the nobility or wealthy citizens who were inclined to memorialize themselves with prestigious buildings.

There existed only Frederick's strong desire to redesign Potsdam and give it a new face. Yet according to Friedrich Mielke, an honorary citizen and expert on Potsdam architecture, "..this 'face' was not the expression of a new urban community that had developed over 35 years but rather a mask the king ordered everybody to wear". ... "Here, there was only one master builder, and that was the king himself."

Frederick wanted architecture worthy of a city of royal residence of European stature. He had more than 400 houses torn down even though they were neither old nor decrepit and replaced them with magnificent new buildings. Step by step, street by street, his plans became reality. A sizeable group of well-known architects were gathered around him: Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, Carl von Gontard, Georg Christian Unger, Jan Bouman, and Heinrich Ludwig Manger.

Our walking tour will afford you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the larger and smaller buildings of that era and to see military structures, imposing gates, palace grounds as well as churches.

We begin our discovery of Frederick's Potsdam at the Old Market Square - Alter Markt.

*This free service is provided by the city of Potsdam. You only pay the connection charge from your mobile phone to the German land line. The length of the audio contributions is two to three minutes. There will be no additional charge.

tomis MP3guide

Download the audio files from this website and listen to them with an MP3 player. The audio files are free of charge. Together with the city map you can immediately start your tour. Have fun!

tomis HANDYguide

With the tomis PHONEguide you can also call at any time this audio file with your mobile phone.*

Just dial

089 210 833 840 2 + the necessary extension

powered by