Potsdam was probably founded in the 10th century. It was first mentioned in 993. The village remained small and insignificant, until it was chosen for the residence of Frederick William I, elector of Brandenburg, in 1660. The city was later also adapted as a residence of the Prussian royal family. The majestic buildings were mainly built during the regency of Frederick the Great. The Sanssouci palace is one of these buildings. While Berlin was the official capital of Prussia and later of the German Empire, the court remained in Potsdam. The city lost this status as a second capital in 1918, when the World War I was over and the emperor Wilhelm II deposed.
The government of the GDR endeavoured to erase the symbols of Prussian militarism. Many historic buildings were torn down. Potsdam bordered on West Berlin and was, after the construction of the Berlin Wall, cut off from the neighbouring metropolis.
Sights in Potsdam:
- Sanssouci Palace, former palace of the Prussian royal and German imperial families
- Orangery Palace, former palace for foreign royal guests
- Neues Palais ("New Palace"), an additional palace in Sanssouci Park, built in 1769
- Charlottenhof, another palace in Sanssouci Park, by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1826)
- New Garden with two smaller palaces, one of them Cecilienhof, where the Potsdam Conference was held
- Old Town with the Brandenburg Gate (1770, not to be confused with the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin), St. Nikolai church (1850) and town hall (1753)
- Babelsberg, a quarter east of the centre, housing the UFA film studios