Exploring Potsdam by Bicycle III: The City

After leaving the Neuer Garten and heading to the Nauener Tor, you are ready to enter the historical city parts of Potsdam. These are the Dutch Quarter, the inner city with the big St. Nikolaiskirche, as well as the castle that is not a castle.

If you come from the North and the Neuer Garten, you will first enter via the Nauener Tor, which is reminiscent of an old castle wall and gate:

It marks the beginning of a pedestrian zone, with the exception of a tram line. The Dutch Quarter consist of 134 red Dutch brick houses and was designed by Johann Boumann - who happened to be, and don't hold your breath now, Dutch. The reason why such a quarter was created had simply been because King Friedrich Wilhelm I. had been fond of the architecture.

Nowadays, the main street is littered with little shops and boutiques to brows. It also marks the perfect spot for a refreshing break to enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.

Then you follow the tram line and simply continue to cycle South until the church becomes overwhelmingly big. If that is the case, you will have reached the Steubenplatz. This consists of a stunning arrangement of various sights.

I am not sure which is going to spring into mind first, but let's start with the St. Nikolaikirche since you can already spot it during the first part of the cycling tour in Park Babelsberg and it seemingly towers of the square.

The St. Nicholas' Church is a Lutheran church and had been built in a Classicist style. The dome is a stunning 77 meters high. Despite being hit by a bomb during the air-raids, it had been fully restored and rebuilt by 1981. Nowadays, entry is free - so you are able to marvel at the inside as long as you remain respectfully quiet.

When you leave the church, you can't help but notice the Obelisk:

It is 25 meters high, and marks the intersection of all the mirror axes of the baroque buildings - The Nikolaiskirche, alte Rathaus, and Palast Berberini. It was also badly damaged by a bomb during the Second World War, and thus, it was removed with the exception of the pedestal. In 1978 and the following year, it was reconstructed using red and white marble from the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia respectively. The old design had been replaced by portraits of famous architects, most notable to the city and the constructors of the St. Nicholas' Church. Thus, this is the first obelisk in Germany that had undergone a change from being a dynastic monument to one for architects.

Right behind the obelisk lies the Fortunaportal, which is the entrance to the Potsdam City Palace - aka the palace not a palace.

If I hadn't read it myself, I wouldn't have believed that the Palace not A Palace had been bombed into obviation during the war. Whatever had remained had been dismantled and demolished by the communist party leaving nothing to ash and dust.

In 2007 it was decided by a referendum to rebuild the palace. The project was finished by 2013, after they had started from scratch. This is meant literal. While I realise that a lot of historical places had been rebuild in parts and renovated, it remains hugely impressive to me that they would rebuild such a big and beautiful feature out of nothing.

The outside is very close to the original while the inside is kept more modern and simple. This also adds to the joke that this is not a palace. Nowadays, the Stadtschloss is home of the Landtag Brandenburg.

This finished the exploration of Potsdam's historical inner city. Afterwards, you can set off to the train station by following the main road. It is going to be on your left, and marks your ticket home.

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