A walk through Potsdam’s city center seems like a journey through time. Those arriving by boat or train start out directly at the birthplace of the city: the square Alter Markt. Here, on the spot of the oldest bridge over the river Havel, a castle protected the trade routes as early as the Early Middle Ages.
For centuries the square ‘Alter Markt’ with the City Palace, St. Nicholas Church and the Old Town Hall has been the economic and political center of the city which was redesigned by Frederick the Great into a Roman piazza.
The huge dome of the St. Nicholas Church along with the towers of the Garrison Church and the Heilig Geist Church characterized the silhouette of the town. An architecturally sophisticated modern building has been standing on the spot of the Heilig Geist Church since 1997. A glockenspiel is a reminder of the Garrison Church which was demolished in 1968 and whose reconstruction is promoted by church and private sponsors.
A stone’s throw away from the square ‘Alter Markt’ is the leisure park Lustgarten, which was recreated on the occasion of the Federal Horticultural Exhibition (BuGa) in 2001. Soldiers went through their exercises here during the reign of King Frederick I. Nowadays the hustle and bustle of fun fairs and city festivals, as well as the small park with the Neptun Basin invite you to linger. A skate park and ballgame grounds await sports-minded visitors. At the dock next to the Lustgarten, the excursion boats of the tour company ‘Weiße Flotte’ (White Fleet) can be boarded.
Behind the Marstall which houses the Film Museum, a stoll across the serene market square Neuer Markt leads you to the city canal. This canal – which is only a small part of the city’s historical canal – was rebuilt thanks to donations by many Potsdam citizens. The historic city canal, which once created an almost Venetian feeling in the city center, was filled in during the 1960s.