Berlin. The busy capital of Germany, Europe’s Silicon Valley, the centre of art, the point where East meets West, where many cultures become one, where people are constantly on the run, and where life never stops. If you asked me to describe Berlin, I’d say that this is the city of escapism. Berlin is the perfect place to forget your past, to get carried away in the present moment, and escape life when it starts pressuring you too much.
Thankfully, you can escape Berlin without leaving Berlin. Charlottenburg Palace is one of the many places in the city that fall out of Berlin’s generally busy vibe. It is a small oasis of tranquility that allows you to recapture your breath and re-gain your pace, to keep up with the Berlin lifestyle.
The monument of German restoration skills
You probably know that I’m a big fan of castles and palaces. This is why I’m super excited to be living in Germany again – a country where there’s a lot of monumental medieval castles and gorgeous baroque palaces. And Charlottenburg is an impressively beautiful palace. It is also the largest one in Berlin. Built in 1699, the palace was completely destroyed during WWII, when it was hit by a bomb. At first, the government planned to demolish Charlottenburg Palace, as there was literally almost nothing left from it, but then the Westies eventually decided to restore the place. It took them more than 60 years (!!!) to complete the restoration, which still continues to this day. This is why Charlottenurg Palace is not just a historical monument and a stunning architectural example of the 17th century, but also a huge tribute to German restoration skills, which have reached the peak of perfection.
Museum Cheat Sheet
When you visit Charlottenburg Palace, make sure you get a full ticket. Now that I’m not a student anymore, it’s a bit expensive for me to be museuming full-time like I used to, as adult entries are super high in Germany… (Do you think I should get myself a fake student ID to keep getting discounts?) But nevertheless, for the full price, you get to see the Old Palace, the New Wing, the New Pavilion, the Mausoleum, and the Belvedere, which has a lot of porcelain. Don’t buy the ticket online, as you’ll get charged an extra €2 (which doesn’t make sense). Don’t buy photo permission for €3 as you can still take pictures on the sly while the guards aren’t looking. Instead, feel free to enjoy the luxurious surroundings of the Charlottenburg Palace because you deserve that. I honestly think that museums should never be so expensive, quite the contrary – they should be cheap. Smaller fees would encourage more people to visit more museums, which for some weird reason are becoming a ‘thing for the elite’ because of ridiculously overpriced entry tickets. So it really defeats the idea of ‘education for all’, doesn’t it? But I digress…
Inside the Charlottenburg Palace
Charlottenburg Palace is the definition of beauty and luxury. The walls of nearly every room are covered with damask, silk, atlas , and satin, ornamented with golden sculptures and adorned with the most exotic details, usually of floral or avian character.
One of the first things you notice is the amount of mirrors, flowers, gold, silver, and crystal. I learned that their collaborative purpose was to make the visitors feel like they’re standing in the midst of a forest and are connecting with nature, which would enable them to hear the unique voice of their inner beauty.
I was also extremely impressed with the chandeliers: in every other room that I entered they were getting more and more beautiful. So delicate and sophisticated, I could only imagine how astonishing they looked centuries ago when Sophie Charlotte, the reason Charlottenburg Palace was built in the first place, was hosting the royal balls there.
But, actually, I’m wrong – Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III and the first queen of Prussia, never experienced the luxury of living in Charlottenburg Palace, because she died a decade before the construction was finally finished. Nevertheless, the palace has a very strong royal presence because of her: the endless amount of paintings (the walls in her bedchamber, for instance, used to have 60 portraits), the musical instruments (she was very good at playing the harpsichord), and the all-round floral decor (she was a woman, after all). Her royal husband, Friedrich III, loved reading. You can still visit his library, which illustrates his exquisite literary taste: I thoroughly explored the spines, and found a lot of Voltaire, Montesquieu, Virgil, and, most interestingly, endless chronologies on French history. They say that Friedrich III was obsessed with French culture, and hardly spoke any German. Ah, those kings and queens of the 18th century – so utterly Frenchified!
Charlottenburg Palace is also famous for its gardens. In fact, it is considered an important monument of landscape architecture. It was the earliest baroque-styled garden in Germany, which is characterised by lanes extending from the palace, flowerbeds shaped as fanciful ornaments, and the system of tree-lined avenues. Additionally, the garden is surrounded by a huge park, where you can easily lose all sense of direction.
I loved Charlottenburg. It’s an incredibly atmospheric place, which makes you feel as if you’ve gone on a day trip, while, in fact, you never left the city. That’s the reason I love Berlin.