It has been at least 18 years since I last visited Schloss Sanssouci, the summer palace of the Prussian King, Frederick the Great. It may have been intended as a summer retreat, but for my personal taste as a photographer, I wanted to capture the rawness of the architecture that can only be appreciated in winter. Often compared to the opulence of Versailles in Paris, there are two palaces in Park Sanssouci to feast your eyes on, with a direct path between the two buildings. The 1.7 km stroll is well worth the effort, as you meander through the royal gardens and pass by a smaller building known as the Charlotten Hof.
Both palaces are the epitome of Prussian arrogance and opulence, Sanssouci sitting atop terraced vineyards and precisely interwoven fig trees, overlooking well manicured lawns and engulfed in a silence that is soothing to the soul. Summer visitors can indulge in the roses and luscious trees that define the park, but if you are after a different perspective, winter is much better.
The thing about these old royal places that I love is the sense of timelessness. Everything seems to come to a standstill, and you forget all about living in Berlin or being in Potsdam. The modern world remains outside the gates and the only (annoying) telltale sign of present day encroachment is the obnoxious amount of people taking selfies with their mobile phones.
A cold and dreary Sunday afternoon when the temperature was close to freezing point (2C) the park was the perfect backdrop for the dedicated joggers and dog owners. There are no bike riders and the surface is not suitable for skaters either – all wheel-toting visitors are confined to the area round the New Palace, which is a concrete monstrosity unto itself.
The name Sans Souci translates from French into worry-free or carefree. I prefer to be irreverent and refer to this palace as the Hakuna Matata Palace (thank you Disney and the Lion King!) and if you close your eyes and try hard enough, you can picture Timon, Pumbaa and Simba singing Hakuna Matata on the steps!