The Neues Palais or New Palace is located at the end of a long avenue on the west side of Sanssouci Park in the Potsdam area of Berlin. It was built for Frederick the Great who started construction in 1763 just after the end of the Seven Years War. The palace includes an opulent main reception room and stunning royal apartments.
One of the purposes of the palace was to demonstrate the power of the Prussian state, with over 200 rooms, including four principal reception rooms, and a theatre. It was used mainly for royal functions and state occasions. Frederick the Great had a suit of rooms placed at his disposal which included a couple of antechambers, a concert room a dining room and a study, but this never became Frederick’s principal residence and after his death in 1786 the Neues Palais fell into disuse and was rarely used.
In 1859 the Neues Palais became the summer residence of Crown Prince Frederick William who later became Emperor Frederick III. During his short 99 day reign, Frederick had a mote dug around the palace and renamed it Friedrichskron Palace. When William II ascended the throne the palace underwent a great deal of renovation and modernisation. Steam heating was introduced and bathrooms installed in the state apartments. The chandeliers which were brought to the palace by Frederick the Great, underwent electrification, and the palace remained the principal residence of William II and his Empress Augusta until 1918 when as a result of the November Revolution, William was forced to abdicate.
After the abdication, the Neues Palais was converted into a museum. A good deal of the furniture had been removed for onward transmission to Williams new home in the Netherlands. The palace remained a museum up until World War II when Russian forces looted many of the remaining treasures, but fortunately the palace had escaped the bombing that had devastated so much of Berlin at the end of the war. In the 1970’s much of the furniture that had been destined for William II was found still in their original packing crates in the Netherlands, and were returned by the Dutch, so today we are able see the palace very much as it looked in 1918.
Inside the palace on the ground floor is the Marble Gallery, which lead on to the Kings apartments. The gallery is richly decorated with white marble and red jasper. To reflect the light, mirrored niches have been set opposite the windows. Three chandeliers hang down from the heavily gilded ceiling. This room is the finest example of Rococo art within the palace. Also within the palace can be found the Grotto Hall, decorated with a marine theme, it includes walls encrusted with shells and a marble floor depicting marine animals.
The theatre which spans over two levels dates back to when the palace was originally constructed for Frederick the Great in the 18th century. What may be considered unusual is that despite its location in a royal palace, the theatre does not have a royal box for the King to view the performances. This is due to the fact that Frederick much preferred to sit with his guests, often choosing to sit in the third row. The Rococo style theatre with its ornate decorations is still in use today.