Sanssouci

The South or Garden façade and corps de logis of Sanssouci

Sanssouci is the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park. The palace was designed/built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 to fulfill King Frederick's need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. The palace's name emphasises this; it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as "without concerns", meaning "without worries" or "carefree", symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power. The name in past times reflected a play on words, with the insertion of a comma visible between the words Sans and Souci, viz. Sans, Souci.[1] Kittsteiner theorizes that this could be a philosophical play on words, meaning "without, beware" or it could be some secret religious message which nobody has interpreted, left to posterity by Frederick II.

Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-story villa—more like the Château de Marly than Versailles. Containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick's personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as "Frederician Rococo", and his feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived it as "a place that would die with him".[2] Because of a disagreement about the site of the palace in the park, Knobelsdorff was fired in 1746. Jan Bouman, a Dutch architect, finished the project.

During the 19th century, the palace became a residence of Frederick William IV. He employed the architect Ludwig Persius to restore and enlarge the palace, while Ferdinand von Arnim was charged with improving the grounds and thus the view from the palace. The town of Potsdam, with its palaces, was a favourite place of residence for the German imperial family until the fall of the Hohenzollern dynasty in 1918.

Frederick the Great (1712–86).

After World War II, the palace became a tourist attraction in East Germany. Following German reunification in 1990, Frederick's body was returned to the palace and buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created. Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a World Heritage Site in 1990 under the protection of UNESCO;[3] in 1995, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg was established to care for Sanssouci and the other former imperial palaces in and around Berlin. These palaces are now visited by more than two million people a year from all over the world.

Ethos of Sanssouci

Frederick the Great's sketch for the plan of Sanssouci was the prototype for the palace (north is at the top). A single enfilade of ten principal rooms forms the south-facing corps de logis. To the north, two segmented colonnades form a cour d'honneur. Two flanking service wings (hidden from view, screened by trees and covered by climbing plants) provide the necessary but mundane domestic offices.

The location and layout of Sanssouci above a vineyard reflected the pre-Romantic ideal of harmony between man and nature, in a landscape ordered by human touch. Winemaking, however, was to take second place to the design of the palace and pleasure gardens. The hill on which Frederick created his terrace vineyard was to become the focal point of his demesne, crowned by the new, but small, palace—"mein Weinberghäuschen" ("my little vineyard house"), as Frederick called it.[4] With its extensive views of the countryside in the midst of nature, Frederick wanted to reside there sans souci ("without a care") and to follow his personal and artistic interests. Hence, the palace was intended for the use of Frederick and his private guests—his sketch (illustration) indicated the balanced suites "pour les etrangers" and "pour le roy"— only during the summer months, from the end of April to the beginning of October.

Twenty years following his creation of Sanssouci, Frederick built the New Palace (Neues Palais) in the western part of the park. This far larger palace was in direct contrast to the relaxed ethos behind Sanssouci, and displayed Frederick's power and strength to the world, in the Baroque style. The design of the New Palace was intended to demonstrate that Prussia's capabilities were undiminished despite its near defeat in the Seven Years' War.[5] Frederick made no secret of his intention, even referring to the new construction as his "fanfaronnade" ("showing off").[6]

This concept of a grand palace designed to impress has led to the comparison of the palaces of Potsdam to Versailles,[7] with Sanssouci being thrust into the role of one of the Trianons. This analogy, though easy to understand, ignores the original merits of the concept behind Sanssouci, the palace for which the whole park and setting were created. Unlike the Trianons, Sanssouci was not an afterthought to escape the larger palace, for the simple reason that the larger palace did not exist at the time of Sanssouci's conception; and once it did, Frederick almost never stayed in the New Palace except on rare occasions when entertaining diplomats he wished to impress. It is true, however, that Sanssouci was intended to be a private place of retreat rather than display of power, strength and architectural merit. Unlike the Trianons, Sanssouci was designed to be a whole unto itself.

The south facing garden façade. Frederick the Great ignored his architect's advice to place the piano nobile upon a low ground floor. As a result, the palace failed to take maximum advantage of its location. Its windows are devoid of views, and seen from its lower terraces it appears to be more of an orangery than a palace.

Sanssouci is small, with the principal block (or corps de logis) being a narrow single-storey enfilade of just ten rooms, including a service passage and staff rooms behind them. Frederick's amateur sketch of 1745 (illustrated above)[8] demonstrates that his architect, Knobelsdorff, was more a draughtsman at Sanssouci than complete architect. Frederick appears to have accepted no suggestions for alteration to his plans, refusing Knobelsdorff's idea that the palace should have a semi-basement storey, which would not only have provided service areas closer at hand, but would have put the principal rooms on a raised piano nobile. This would have given the palace not only a more commanding presence, but also would have prevented the problems of dampness to which it has always been prone.[8] However, Frederick wanted an intimate palace for living: for example, rather than scaling a large number of steps, he wanted to enter the palace immediately from the garden. He insisted on a building on the ground level, of which the pedestal was the hill: in short, this was to be a private pleasure house. His recurring theme and requirement was for a house with close connections between its style and free nature. The principal rooms, lit by tall slender windows, face south over the vineyard gardens; the north façade is the entrance front, where a semicircular cour d'honneur was created by two segmented Corinthian colonnades.

In the park, east of the palace, is the Sanssouci Picture Gallery, built from 1755 to 1764 under the supervision of the architect Johann Gottfried Büring. It stands on the site of a former greenhouse, where Frederick raised tropical fruit. The Picture Gallery is the oldest extant museum built for a ruler in Germany. Like the palace itself, it is a long, low building, dominated by a central domed bow of three bays.

Following the death of Frederick a new era began, a visible sign of which was the change in architectural styles. Neo-Classicism, popular elsewhere in Europe but ignored by Frederick, now found its way to Potsdam and Berlin during the reign of the new king Frederick William II. He ordered the construction of a new palace in the new more fashionable style, and stayed at Sanssouci only occasionally.

The reception and bedrooms were renovated and completely altered immediately after Frederick's death. Frederick William von Erdmannsdorff received the commission for the refurbishment. While Frederick had been constructing the New Palace in the Baroque style between 1763 and 1769, Erdmannsdorff, an advocate of the new neo-classical style, had created Schloss Wörlitz in Wörlitz Park, the first neo-classical palace in Germany. As a result of his influence, Sanssouci became the first of the palaces in Potsdam and Berlin to be remodelled with a neo-classical interior. In 1797, Frederick William II was succeeded by Frederick William III; he visited Sanssouci even less frequently than did his father, preferring to spend the summer months in Paretz Palace or on the Pfaueninsel in Berlin.

Other Languages
العربية: قصر سانسوسي
беларуская: Сан-Сусі
български: Сансуси
català: Sanssouci
Cebuano: Sanssouci
čeština: Sanssouci
dansk: Sanssouci
Deutsch: Sanssouci
Esperanto: Sanssouci
فارسی: سن‌سوسی
Gaeilge: Sanssouci
한국어: 상수시궁
hrvatski: Sanssouci
Bahasa Indonesia: Sanssouci
íslenska: Vanangur
latviešu: Sansusī pils
lietuvių: Sansusi
magyar: Sanssouci
Nederlands: Sanssouci
norsk: Sanssouci
پنجابی: نواں محل
polski: Sanssouci
português: Sanssouci
română: Sanssouci
русский: Сан-Суси
slovenčina: Sanssouci
slovenščina: Sanssouci
српски / srpski: Сансуси
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sanssouci
suomi: Sanssouci
svenska: Sanssouci
українська: Палац Сансусі
Tiếng Việt: Sanssouci
中文: 無憂宮