The terraces adorned with Mediterranean plants and the majestic structure in Italian Renaissance style indicate the great affection for Italy cherished by Frederick William IV. The complex was built between 1851 and 1864 to designs by Prussia's art-loving king. His prototypes were Italian villas and palaces such as Villa Medici and Villa Pamphili. There were originally ambitious plans for the architecture: an elevated road flanked by diverse buildings would lead from the triumphal gate, across the hill where the mill stands, past Schloss Sanssouci to the Belvedere on Klausberg, but the orangery was the only major feature to be implemented. The best-known Prussian architects of the day – Ludwig Persius, Friedrich August Stüler and Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse – were involved in the planning process.
Exotic pot plants from Sanssouci still spend the winter in the plant halls, each over 100 metres long. The villa-like pavilions linked by double portals which round off the complex to the east and west have been used ever since their construction to house court staff.
The viewing platform between the towers over the central section offers visitors a fascinating panorama of the landscape. Inside the palace, two royal apartments convey an impression of how people lived at the 19th-century court. The rooms are appointed to reflect the King's personal taste, with works by sculptors of the Berlin school, architectural ornament, furniture reminiscent of historical styles, wall coverings of precious silk and mineral decoration.
The heart of this palace complex is the Raphael Hall. Conceived by Frederick William IV as a museum space, the impressive roof-lit hall contains about 50 copies of paintings by Raphael from the King's collection, including such famous pieces as the "Sistine Madonna" and the "Transfiguration".
Sanssouci, Orangery Palace and Tower
An der Orangerie 3–5
D – 14469 Potsdam
Contact and Booking (Visitor's centre): +49 (0)331.96 94-200