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Sanssouci

But, for most visitors, it's Sanssouci that's the prime attraction. Its Park alone covers 724 acres compared to Central Parks 840 and has three palaces: the rococo Sanssouci Palace, the Baroque New Palace and Charlottenhof Palace.

A king who joined his troops on the battlefield, Frederick the Great, commissioned Sanssouci in 1747 as a summer palace where he could find respite from the battle sans souci. His fatigue is evident in the statuary: the warrior in marble, his sword in its sheath, his shield down, and a look of weariness.

Most of what visitors see here are ornate originals not reconstructions or duplicates and perhaps Germany's most impressive example of rococo architecture. In front of the palace, terraced vineyard stretch in geometric shapes into the park.

Over the following century, others made their mark on Sanssouci Park with more construction. The New Palace, a massive, 200-room Baroque masterpiece, was built after the Seven Years War to demonstrate Prussian pride - and in response to the palace at Versailles. The neoclassical Charlottenhof followed in 1826. A visual highlight then and now is the Orangerie, a 300-meter-long palace built to house large tropical plants - including 450 potted trees - during the winter. In warmer weather, the grounds in front of the Orangerie become a Mediterranean garden complete with palm trees.

Many visitors to the park neglect the small but exquisite New Garden, built as an English landscape garden in the late 18th century. Some Potsdam residents actually prefer the garden, a strip of green space between two lakes - the Heiliger See and the Jungfernsee. Relatively few tourists come here, even though it provides the setting for two charming palaces from two different eras: the Marble Palace, a Baroque jewel from the late 18th century, and Cecilienhof, the final Hohenzollern palace, built in 1917 in the style of an English country estate.