POTSDAM, GERMANY, a town of Germany, the administrative capital of the Prussian province of Brandenburg, and one of the principal residences of the German Emperor, beautifully situated on the river Havel, 16 m. S.W. of Berlin, on the main line of railway to Magdeburg. Pop. (1905), 61,414. It is also connected with the capital by two local lines and by a steamboat service through the chain of lakes formed by the river. The greater part of the town lies on the right bank of the Havel and is connected with the Teltow suburb on the opposite bank by a long bridge (Lange Briicke). At the north end of this bridge rises the royal palace, a large quadrangular building of the 17th century, with a colonnade, chiefly interesting for the numerous relics it contains of Frederick the Great, who made it his favourite residence. At the south-eastern corner of the palace, close to the bridge, is the tree under which petitioners waited for the answer to their grievances, which Frederick the Great gave from an opposite window. It also contains reminiscences of Voltaire, who resided here for several years. The principal churches are the Nikolaikirche; the Church of the Holy Ghost, built in 1728; the garrison church, containing the remains of Frederick the Great and his father, Frederick William I.; and the Friedenskirche, or Church of Peace, erected by Frederick William IV. in 1845-1850. To the Friedenskirche is attached a mausoleum built after the model of a chapel at Innichen in Tirol, in which are buried Emperor Frederick III. and his consort, the Princess Royal of Great Britain, and two of their children who died in infancy. Among other conspicuous buildings are the large barracks and other military establishments; the town hall; and the Brandenburg gate, in the style of a Roman triumphal arch. The town has fine statues of several of the Prussian kings, including Frederick the Great. The Lustgarten, the Wilhelmsplatz and the Plantage are open spaces laid out as pleasure-grounds and adorned with statues and busts. In spite of its somewhat sleepy appearance, Potsdam has manufactures of silk goods, chemicals, furniture, chocolate, tobacco and optical instruments. Market-gardening affords occupation to many of the inhabitants, and the cultivation of winter violets is a specialty. The Havel is well stocked with fish. On a wooded eminence to the south of the town lies the observatory with extensive premises.
Potsdam is almost entirely surrounded by a fringe of royal palaces, parks and pleasure-grounds, which fairly substantiate its claim to the title of a " German Versailles." Immediately to the west is the park of Sans Souci, laid out by Frederick the Great, and largely extended by Frederick William IV. It is in the formal French style of the period, and is adorned with fountains, statuary and artificial ruins. Near the palace is the famous .windmill ; now royal property, which, accbrding to a tradition now regarded as doubtful, its owner refused to sell to the king, meeting threatened violence by an appeal to the judges of Berlin. A little farther on is the Orangery, an extensive edifice in the Italian style, containing numerous pictures and other works of art. The park also includes the Charlottenhof, a reproduction of a Pompeian villa. At the west end of the park stands the New Palace, a huge brick edifice 375 ft. in length, erected by Frederick the Great at enormous expense in 1763-1769. It was occupied for a while by the emperor Frederick III., and was rechristened by him " Friedrichskron." On the accession of the emperor William II. its original name was restored. It is now the residence of the emperor. It contains reminiscences of Frederick and of Voltaire, a few pictures by ancient masters, a theatre, and a large hall decorated with shells and minerals. The spacious buildings at the back are devoted to the "Lehrbataillon, " a battalion of infantry composed of drafts from different regiments trained here to ensure uniformity of drill throughout the army. To the north of Potsdam lies a small Russian village, Alexandrowka, built in 1826 to accommodate the Russian singers attached to the Prussian guards. A little to the east of it, on the Heiligersee, is the New Garden, containing the Marble Palace. The list of Potsdam palaces may be closed with two situated on the left bank of the Havel-^-one at Klein-Glienicke, formerly the country-seat of Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia (the " Red Prince "), and the other on the hill of Babelsberg. The latter, designed as a miniature copy of Windsor Castle, in the midst of a park in the English taste, was formerly the summer residence of the emperor William I.
Potsdam was originally a Slavonic fishing- village named Poztupimi, and is first mentioned in a document of 993. It became a town in the 14th century, but was unimportant until the great elector built a palace here between 1660 and 1682; and even at the close of his reign it only contained 3000 inhabitants. The elector Frederick William I. greatly enlarged Potsdam, and his stiff military tastes are reflected in the monotonous uniformity of the streets. Frederick the Great continued his father's work, and is the real creator of the modern splendour of the town, to which all his successors have contributed.
See H. C. P. Schmidt, Geschichte und Topographic der Residenzstadt Potsdam (Potsdam, 1825); G. Sello, P,otsdam und Sanssouci (Breslau, 1888); Mugge, Fuhrer durch Potsdam und Umgebung (Potsdam, 1896); Kopisch, Die koniglichen Schlosser und Garten zu Potsdam (Berlin, 1854); and Bethge, Die Hohenzollernanlagen Potsdams (Berlin, 1889).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)