Frederick II – known as Frederick the Great in the annals of history – turned Potsdam into a representative royal capital. The creations of his time still define the look and the character of the town. In 1744 additions to the City Palace and the construction of Sanssouci Palace began. The sketches for this palace at the vineyard originated with Frederick II; his builder was the architect Knobelsdorff.
The king assembled renowned personalities of the 18th century in Sanssouci including Voltaire. In addition to Georg Wenzelshaus of Knobelsdorff, the most significant master builders at this time were Carl of Gontard and Georg Christian Unger. Among other things they created the New Palace, the Picture Gallery and the New Chambers and left marks of their skill on the cityscape of Potsdam.
By order of Frederick II in 1750, the weaver and spinner colony Nowawes (today’s Potsdam-Babelsberg) was developed outside the town gates. Some rural houses, built for Bohemian immigrants who had been religiously persecuted in their home country, are still in good condition today and form the Bohemian Weaver’s Quarter. The Friedrich Church, built by Frederick the Great, is located in its center.
The 19th century began with Napoleon’s invasion of Potsdam. For two years the city became the main cavalry depot of the French army. Up to 6,000 soldiers and 12,000 horses had to be accommodated. The stay of the Napoleonic troops cost Potsdam 850,000 thalers.
In 1838 the first railway line in Prussia started operating on the route Potsdam-Berlin. The trains reached a speed of 10 to 15 kilometers per hour.
Frederick William IV went down in history as a real friend of the classical style of architecture. At the king’s request, his architect Karl Frederick Schinkel and the royal horticultural director Peter Joseph Lenné created a great number of magnificent works in the years 1826 to 1862. Charlottenhof Palace and Orangery Palace at Sanssouci Park, the design of the Pfingstberg grounds, the Church of Peace and the Church of the Redeemer in Sacrow are the most impressive construction undertakings of this time.