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Schloss Charlottenburg (Berlin, Germany)

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Sightseeing Type: Castles / Palaces

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      17.08.2000 07:58
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      Schloss Charlottenburg had the highest admission price of any of the places I visited on my recent visit to Berlin - it was 15DM to visit all of the parts of the palace, which is about £5, so it's still not excessive. The Schloss is located a fair distance out to the West of the city, and the best way to get there is to walk up Schloss Strasse from the Sophie-Charlotte Platz U-bahn station. Schloss Strasse is a particularly attractive tree lined street, with a path down the middle leading right up to the palace. The palace and grounds cover an enormous area, and it would take a large part of a day to do it justice. The only part of the palace which is guided is the ground floor of the main part of the palace. The tours are exclusively in German, but there are leaflets available in English, albeit not enough given how many non-German tourists visit the palace. You also have to don carpeted slippers over your shoes, so that you don't damage the floor of the palace... or perhaps so that you can enjoy sliding about on the polished wooden floors... The ground floor tour of the palace consists of a long series of apartment rooms along one of the long wings of the palace, and describes the history of the palace's inhabitants and their portraits. The palace was completed in the early eighteenth century, and was built for Friedrich I's wife Sophie Charlotte, and her monogram can be found throughout the older parts of the palace. The highlights of this tour are certainly the "Prozellankabinett" (literally 'porcelain cabinet'), a room in the centre of the palace holding an enormous (to the point of garishness) collection of Japanese and Chinese porcelain, and the Schlosskapelle (the palace chapel). Only the pulpit of the chapel is original to the palace, all of the other furnishings had to be reconstructed following damage to the palace in the Second World War. A "new" wing was a
      dded to the palace in the mid-eighteenth century by Friedrich II, and is now home to the Gallery of Romanticism, housing a collection of Romantic paintings from the Nationalgalerie's collection. The gardens behind the palace are exceptional, both in terms of size and in terms of appearance. The gardens are both beautiful and well-tended, and well worth a visit even if you aren't particularly interested in gardening! The Baroque garden immediately behind the palace has been reconstructed, following damage during the war, along the lines suggested by eighteenth-century prints, with a strict geometrical pattern and an ornate central fountain. Admission to the palace grounds alone is actually free, though there is a fee to visit the buildings in the palace grounds. Also in the grounds of the palace is the New Pavilion, a neo-Classical pavilion built for Friedrich III, in which pictures of the interior in its heyday, and of the city in the eighteenth century can be found. The Mausoleum, where the first wife of Friedrich III was laid to rest, is also in the palace grounds. At the far end of the palace's West Wing is a museum of pre- and early history, and to the far North-East of the grounds can be found the Belvedere, a Baroque summer house used by Friedrich II. All in all, there's a lot of history to be seen at Schloss Charlottenburg, and the palace covers an enormous area, including a great many things to do. Potentially, a visit could occupy a whole day, but I'm not particularly interested in this period of history, and although I found the buildings themselves interesting, there wasn't enough to keep me entertained for a whole day. Certainly, the palace is very impressive, and it's an attractive place to visit. However, less able bodied visitors should be warned that to visit any more than just the oldest part of the palace will require a long walk!

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    The Oldest Prussian Palace. Luisenplatz (northern end of Schloss Strasse in Charlottenburg). Tel: +49 (0)30 320 911. It houses the Galerie der Romantik (romanticist paintings) and the Museum fur Vor-und Fruhgeschichte (ancient and prehistoric art)