How much French influence is there in Potsdam?
This question was explained by the guide from the Barberini Museum during a live virtual tour on 17 February 2022. He described the city as "Aemulatio," an imitation, because many buildings mimic the models in the manner of this art. This reflects the spirit of the eras and the guiding principle of its primary architect, Frederick II of Prussia (1712-1786), who was called the Great although he himself was only 1.62 m tall.
Our tour starts at the Old Market (photo 1). Frederick II had rebuilt the old city palace in French rococo design and the Barberini Palais was built in a Roman palazzo style (both buildings were destroyed in World War II and rebuilt only recently). The obelisk was erected in the Egyptian style and he brought the Dutchmen and the Russians to the city in order to build their typical houses. To the Huguenots fleeing from France, Frederick II also offered a new home including church and school (photo 2).
We learned that Frederick the Great spoke, read and wrote only in French as it was customary among the members of aristocracy during that period. He corresponded intensively with Voltaire, who then came to his manor, but later had an argument. A commemorative plaque is dedicated to Voltaire at Haveluferweg.
His preference for everything French explains the name of his refuge, the summer palace "Sans Soucis”. The library was almost exclusively filled with French books and French painters decorated the walls of the gallery. The part of the park below the vineyard terraces in front of the chateau is called the French Roundabout. It is also furnished with many statues, which were the gifts from the French King, Louis XV and partly were the work of French artists. Standing crossing each other, they symbolize the axis of philosophy and military power.
The Old Fritz (Frederick II) was originally entombed in the Garrison Church. This is also where our path leads to the time when Napoleon moved into Potsdam in 1806. He paid respect to the king by visiting the grave (photo 3).
After 1 ½ hours of the live virtual tour, we still did not manage to see a piece of the facade of the Parisian Palais des Tuileries. However, we ended the session with many fascinating information and an inspiration for a "real" trip to Potsdam!