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Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin by Steffi Böhme

    Table of contents
    1. 1. Managerial Problems



    The UNESCO World Heritage site “Palaces and Parks of Potsdam” consists of as many as 150 historical buildings[1] and numerous landscaped parks and gardens in and around the neighboring German cities of Potsdam and Berlin. Commissioned by the Prussian kings and later the rulers of Brandenburg between 1730 and 1916[2], they are an outstanding ensemble of architectural and landscaping art. They represent a unique composition of different artistic movements from the whole of Europe, concentrated in one places and linked together as a unique composition. The castle of Sanssouci is also known as the “Prussian Versailles”. The “man-made landscape is a unique example of landscape design against the background of monarchic ideas of the state and common efforts for emancipation”[3]; so the justification.

    The World Heritage Site covers a large area and has expanded to its current size in three stages.
    The initial designation from 1990 included the chateaux and parks of Sanssouci[4] and was extended with the inclusion of the Berlin- Zehlendorf district just after the reunification of Germany.
    In 1992, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was further enlarged with the addition of the Sacrow estate and park[5].
    The final extension was made in 1999 and includes different sites located in the historic baroque residential town of Potsdam.


    1990/1991 designation

    • Palace and Park of Sanssouci, Potsdam

    • New Garden; Marble Palace and Schloss Ceilienhof, Potsdam

    • Babelsberg Garden and Palaceg, Potsdam

    • Glienicke Palace and Volkspark Klein- Glienicke, Berlin

    • Nokolskoe log house, Berlin

    • Peacock Island, Berlin

    • Mount Böttcher, Berlin

    • Glienicke hunting lodge, Berlin


    1992 extension

    • Church of the Redeemer, Sacrow/ Potsdam

    • Palace and Park of Sacrow/ Potsdam

    1999 extension

    • Lindenallee, Potsdam

    • Former gardeners' school and the Kaiserstation, Potsdam

    • Palace and Park of Lindstedt, Potsdam

    • The village of Bornstedt, Potsdam

    • Mount of Ruins, Potsdam

    • Voltaireweg, Potsdam

    • Entrance area of Park Sanssouci, Potsdam

    • "Russian colony “Alexandrovka”, Potsdam

    • The Pfingstberg, Potsdam

    • Southern shore of the Jungfernsee, Potsdam

    • The Roayl Forest; Sacrow/Potsdam

    • Approaches to Babelsberg Park, Potsdam

    • Babelsberg Observatory, Potsdam


    Managerial Problems

    The heritage site is managed by one body, the “Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg”.  The site includes many buildings and gardens over a rather large geographical area which is a big challenge to manage and adequately divide resources to.

    The cultural landscape falls within two administrations, Potsdam and Berlin. Both parties need to be willing to contribute and conserve the site.

    In recent years, the financial burden on the upkeeping of the parks and restoration of buildings has grown and is in a critical state. The foundation depends on government fund, money from the cities and entrance fees in order to maintain the premises. A voluntary entrance fee has been implied in the park of Sanssouci but the foundation plans to make it a mandatory 2€ entrance, raising a heated debate in the parliament of Potsdam. The city is threatening to terminate their current five- year contact with the foundation, which would mean a cut-back of one million Euros per year. [6]The debate has been going on for many years now.

    Many parts of Potsdam are by the state law under monumental protection or fall within the buffer- zone around the UNESCO World Heritage Site which has been critical for urban planning and development of the city many times. It was almost inscribed to the “List of World Heritage Site in Danger” when the new main train station was planned in a rather big manner in 1999 and regulations for the passage of large vessels on the Havel Canal were about to be loosened. [7]

    Being close to Berlin, Potsdam is an attractive location for many businesses. However, there have been reoccurring clashes of interests between private investors, urban authorities and the foundation. In recent years, the foundation has made it clear that the city’s main asset is believed to be the World Heritage rank which needs to be protected in any possible way and all  individual economic interests have to step down. [8] This view of course is not shared by all stakeholders.



    Train Station in 1990 (


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    Comments (4)

    Viewing 4 of 4 comments: view all
    Again I'm going to look into this site, it sounds amazing. You gave me a good insight to the importance of this site and why it should be preserved even though there are really big managerial challenges. I can't believe they rather build a station station that to preserve this site, but like we see too many times when it comes to sites within active towns, money is more important, a sad thing.
    I really liked the structure you used and was easy to read.
    Good job.
    Posted 19:22, 12 Nov 2013
    Thank you for making such a great presentation in the class. I liked the discussion on the entrance fees, it is a difficult decision to make and I agree this will be interesting development. How they will manage to get out of this issue! Best, Albina
    Posted 21:32, 12 Nov 2013
    Thank you Stefi for a quite descriptive article, now I would like to visit Potsdam. As far as I understand there are quite many forests, gardens, parks, so the trip would take more than one day to see everything. It was also interesting to find how the period of industrialization in Europe (the train station built in Potsdam) brought so many risks of the sites to disappear. Fortunately, it is saved and as a World Heritage Site, it represents a piece of beautiful landscape with a historical meaning (I know that the second World War treaty was also signed there).
    Posted 14:30, 13 Nov 2013
    Well, the first railway between Berlin and Potsdam opened in 1838 so we are not talking about the direct effects of the Industrialization in Europe here but the modernization of former East- Germany. It is, like most modern trainstations, not only a train hub but also a shopping center.
    Now, there is one more interessting thing to mention when talking about the train station (which they did build but only after changing the building plans). Some parts of the first train station from 1838 are still preserved and are under monument conservation. They were not allowed to be demolished so nowadays the old watertower is a close neighbor to the modern train station. I will upload a two picture for you to see.
    Posted 17:38, 14 Nov 2013
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