Prussia's most famous king, Friedrich II—Frederick the Great—spent more time at his summer residence, Schloss Sanssouci, than in the capital of Berlin. Its name means "without a care" in French, the language Frederick cultivated in his own private circle and within the court. Some experts believe that Frederick actually named the palace "Sans, Souci," which they translate as "with and without a care," a more apt name, since its construction caused him a lot of trouble and expense, and sparked furious rows with his master builder, Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. His creation nevertheless became one of Germany's greatest tourist attractions.
Executed according to Frederick's impeccable French-influenced taste, the palace, which lies on the northeastern edge of Sanssouci Park, was built between 1745 and 1747. It is extravagantly rococo, with scarcely a patch of wall left unadorned. Be advised that during peak tourist months, timed tickets for Schloss Sanssouci tours
(€12) can sell out before noon. Combined tickets for all park sights cost €19 and can be booked in advance online.
Just east of the palace sits the Bildergalerie or "Picture Gallery" (€6), which displays Frederick II's collection of 17th-century Italian and Dutch paintings, including works by Caravaggio, Rubens, and Van Dyck. The main cupola contains expensive marble from Siena. To the west of the palace are the Neue Kammern or "New Chambers," which began as a greenhouse and then hosted guests of the king's family (€4 with guided tour only).
Farther west, the Orangerie was completed in 1864; its two massive towers linked by a colonnade evoke an Italian Renaissance palace. Today it houses more than 50 copies of paintings by Raphael, (€4 with guided tour, €2 tower only).
From Schloss Sanssouci, you can wander down the extravagant terraced gardens, filled with climbing grapevines, trellises, and fountains to reach the Italianate Friedenskirche or "Peace Church," which was completed in 1854, and houses a 13th-century Byzantine mosaic taken from an island near Venice.