A grand reminder of imperial days, this showplace served as a city residence for the Prussian rulers. The gorgeous palace started as a modest royal summer residence in 1695, built on the orders of King Friedrich I for his wife, Sophie-Charlotte. In the 18th century Frederick the Great made a number of additions, such as the dome and several wings designed in the rococo style. By 1790 the complex had evolved into a massive royal domain that could take a whole day to explore. Behind heavy iron gates, the Court of Honor—the front courtyard—is dominated by a baroque statue of the Great Elector on horseback. Buildings can be visited separately for different admission prices, or altogether as part of a €19 Tageskarte (day card).
The Altes Schloss is the main building of the Schloss Charlottenburg complex, with the ground-floor suites of Friedrich I and Sophie-Charlotte. Paintings include royal portraits by Antoine Pesne, a noted court painter of the 18th century. A guided tour
visits the Oak Gallery, the early-18th-century palace chapel, and the suites of Friedrich Wilhelm II and Friedrich Wilhelm III, furnished in the Biedermeier style. Tours leave hourly from 9 to 5. The upper floor has the apartments of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, a silver treasury, and Berlin and Meissen porcelain and can be seen on its own.
The Neuer Flügel (New Building), where Frederick the Great once lived, was designed by Knobbelsdorff, who also built Sanssouci. The 138-foot-long Goldene Galerie (Golden Gallery) was the palace's ballroom. West of the staircase are Frederick's rooms, in which parts of his extravagant collection of works by Watteau, Chardin, and Pesne are displayed. An audio guide is included in the separate €6 admission fee.
The Schlosspark Charlottenburg behind the palace was laid out in the French baroque style beginning in 1697, and was transformed into an English garden in the early 19th century. In it are the Neuer Pavillon by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Carl Langhan's Belvedere Pavillon (€3, Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Sun. 10–6; winter hrs vary) which overlooks the lake and the Spree River and holds a collection of Berlin porcelain.