From Berlin to Potsdam, we took an hour and forty minutes bus ride. I was still adjusting to the change of time, so it was a good time to catch a power nap. It was about noon when we arrived at Sansoucci Park. It was hot and humid. We walked through a clearing and through a wooded pathway leading to the palace. The air felt heavy and thick. It was as if, Potsdam's air was giving us a warm welcome hug. As sweat trickled on my forehead and back, I swung my camera to the side, wiped my forehead with my hand, wore my smile and kept walking towards the Cecilienhof Palace. My day was just getting better.
Potsdam had an old soul feeling. The city seems to greatly coexist with a well managed green forest. It is very quiet and serene in contrast to busy and noisy Berlin. If given more time to explore the area, it would have been nice to stroll and hike around the area even if it was hot and humid.
At first glance, this Prussian palace looks simple. My first impression was that it looked more like a country home.
The palace courtyard with a red star design made of Geranium flowers; it is also called Stalin's Star. According to our guide, the first flowers were planted by the Soviets in 1945.
As simple as it may look, the gravity of one event that took place here makes this palace historically relevant -the Potsdam Conference in 1945.
An old lantern hangs by the palace window. I wonder if this lantern knew who the important leaders who sat, smoked and chatted by its light.
The overgrown plants add character to the palace. If only these these walls and windows could talk, would they whisper to me what Winston Churchill, Joseph Attlee, Harry S. Truman, Clement Attlee and Joseph talked about at the round table in the great hall?
Cecilienhof was designed in style of an English country house for Crown Prince William, eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Crown Princess Cecilie. Construction started in 1914, and the building was completed in 1917.
The palace's design was largely inspired by neo-Tudor style, with exposed brickwork, half-timbering and decorative chimney stacks. The mansion, with nearly 180 rooms, was designed to be occupied year-round. Its most distinctive features are its courtyards, including the Honor Court (Ehrenhof) with its carriage entrance reserved for the imperial couple. (Source here.)
Do not let the simplicity of this palace fool you. As we walked around the palace, I can't help but think of the gravity of what happened here and how one decision changed the outcome of World War II. Because at this simple, quiet palace, an agreement was signed to change the course of our world history.
On 26 July 1945 Churchill and Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration defining the terms for Japanese surrender, while Truman had already given order to prepare the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Source here.)
Interesting facts on this Prussian Palace:
- last palace built by the Hohenzollern dynasty (Source here)
- the Hohenzollern dynasty is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania (Source here)
- from July 17 to August 2, 1945, this is the venue of the Potsdam Conference negotiations between the victorious Allies of World War II and this is where the Potsdam Agreement was signed. (Source here)
- Germany - Potsdam & Sansoucci Park, http://www.flickr.com/photos/checco/sets/72157594582046895/.
- Historic Highlights of Germany, http://www.historicgermany.com/3341.html.
- Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombing_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki.
- Discover Potsdam, http://www.potsdam.de/cms/beitrag/10001021/34080/.
- House of Hohenzollern, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hohenzollern.