Press material: Babelsberg Palace and Park
Babelsberg Palace and Park
Prince Carl and Prince Frederick William already had their own summer residences, Glienicke and Charlottenhof, when in 1833 Prince William –eventually to become Kaiser William I – was finally granted permission by his father Frederick William III to use the slopes of Babelsberg for a stately home and park.
Before the year was out, Peter Joseph Lenné had produced preliminary drawings for the park, and Karl Friedrich Schinkel had been appointed to design a neo-Gothic palace. Work proceeded apace, although hindered by meagre finances and disagreements with the owners. Lenné was plagued by a run of bad luck on this commission. His ideas did not appeal to Crown Princess Augusta, and many of the plants he introduced dried out for lack of irrigation. He was replaced by Prince Pückler-Muskau, who retained Lenné’s network of paths, but added a multitude of narrow walks with delightful views of Potsdam. Closer to the palace, he redesigned the pleasure ground and the flower garden, adding ornate decoration on the terraces.
For financial reasons, Schinkel only finished the first section of the palace, which was completed between 1844 and 1849 by Ludwig Persius and Johann Henry Strack. They modified Schinkel’s original plans for partitioning the interior space, not least to reflect the wishes of the royal couple. In the middle of the park, a ten-minute walk from the palace, Strack built the Flatow Tower. Constructed between 1853 and 1856 as an eyecatching feature and vantage point, it replaced a granulating windmill that burned down in 1848. The tower re-opened in 1993. The continuous gallery which runs round the outside at the top offers extensive views of the lakes, gardens and cultural landscape of Potsdam. Some of the tower rooms have been restored just as they were originally built and furnished; others house a modern exhibition where visitors can learn more about the history of the tower and the park.