January 24th marks 300 years since the birth of Frederick the Great, or Friedrich der Große, one of the most notable figures in German history. Though more interested in the arts than the art of war, he nonetheless succeeded in several important military campaigns that united a previously sprawled out Prussian kingdom. He’s also credited with modernizing Prussia with political and economic reforms, as well as the cultivation of the potato.
Of course, “Alte Fritz” is also known for his Sanssouci palace and massive park complex in Potsdam, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Here the king retreated from the pomp of Berlin and immersed himself in music, philosophy, and French literature.
In addition to a guided tour of the main palace (there are several), be sure to see the Italian Renaissance styled Orangerieschloß, Friedenskirche, and the Chinese Tea House. It’s a beautiful concentration of stunning architecture and history, all sandwiched in one of Germany’s most beautiful parks.
Frederick died at Sanssouci after a 46-year reign and was buried at the Potsdam Garrison church. During World War II his remains were moved a Thuringian salt mine, then on to Marburg by the Allied army, and finally the ancestral home at Hohenzollern Castle in Swabia. After reunification, his remains were finally buried according to his wishes (after only 205 years)– on the terrace at Sanssouci, without any pomp, and at night. Be sure to bring a potato for his grave.