The Summer Residence of Queen Consort Sophie Charlotte of Prussia

When visiting Berlin and surroundings you easily miss something, as there is so much to visit. Potsdam (two parks with palaces), Rheinsberg, Schönhausen, but also Berlin itself has its palaces. The most known is probably the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin-Charlottenburg, the biggest and most important palace in the city. It was one of the most beloved palaces of the Hohenzollern family.

It was built between 1695 and 1699 after a design of the architect J. Arnold Nering. Originally it was meant as a small summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Elector Friedrich III of Brandenburg. It was named Lützenburg. In January 1701 however he was crowned the first King of Prussia as Friedrich I. Soon Charlottenburg was extended by architect Eosander von Göthe, with Versailles near Paris as an example. The building got two side wings enclosing a large courtyard. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and the name of the palace was changed to Charlottenburg in her honour. Between 1709 and 1712 Friedrich I had among others an orangery built and extended the central area with a large domed tower. The Amber Room inside the palace was described the “eight wonder of the world”. Friedrich I died in 1713.

The couple’s son Friedrich Wilhem I left everything about the way it was. That changed when his son Friedrich II the Great ascended the throne in 1740. Between 1740 and 1746 he had his Superintendent George Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff completed the stables and the east wing. Although the decoration of the exterior was relatively simple, the furnishing were rich. The decoration in the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery on the upper floor however was splendid. As soon as the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam was finished, Friedrich II didn’t spend much time in Charlottenburg anymore.

Friedrich Wilhelm II had a few rooms transformed, but didn’t change much. His son Friedrich Wilhelm III and his wife Luise spent much of their time at Charlottenburg, also their son Friedrich Wilhelm IV had his apartments here. The last resident of the palace was Emperor Friedrich III, who only reigned for 99 days in 1888. Since it was open to the public. Between 2004 and 2006 the palace once again served as an official residence, this time for the President of Germany, as his residence, the Bellevue Palace, was being restored.

In 1943, during the Second World War, the palace was badly damaged. Despite of that in the 1950s it was decided to rebuilt the palace. In front of the palace is a statue of Friedrich II by Andreas Schlüter. Highlights of the present palace are the Crown Treasure and Silver Vault, the royal apartments and a large ballroom. And don’t forget the beautiful gardens.

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