This was one of the grandest days. We have been at Sans Souci, and it is certainly one of the prettiest spots we have seen. We took the car to Potsdam, passing through a very pretty part of Berlin. At Potsdam, we took the Electric (as they call the street cars here) to Sans Souci.
We first of all went into the mausoleum of Emperor Frederick III, a basilica supported by nine columns of Labrador marble with an altar niche built like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Upon the altar, which rests on four eagles, is a beautiful statue of Mary at the corpse of Christ (Pieta) made of Carrera Marble. To the right and left are the sarcophagi of the two young princes, Waldemar and Sigismund, both sons of the Emperor, one with the bust of the young prince and the other with a rising angel beautifully worked in pure white marble.
In the center circle are the beautiful Sarcophagi of Emp. Frederick III and his consort, Victoria. The entire floor is worked in violet and black marble. The windows have wonderful coloring and show the initials of the two departed with their mottos, “without fear and constant” and “faithful and firm” also “Dieuet mondroit.” [God and my law]
A heavenly peace dwells in this resting place and invites you to worship. The Friedens Kirche being closed for repairs, we stepped through the Green Gate into the park of Sans Souci.
Frederick William I started a vegetable garden here in 1714 to which he added a little chateau. Frederick II converted the unsightly hill in the back of the garden into a vineyard built into six terraces and niches, which can be covered with glass. At the top of the hill, he built a chateau which was finished in 1748 and which is called Sans Souci (Free of Care). At the foot of the hill, the park was laid out.
Frederick William IV improved this park, and many new statues and gardens were added under his reign. The present Emperor has brought out the beauty of the paradise, and he continues to make improvements.
We passed the “Drakevase,” the Hermen Column and the two Sphinxes, who seem to guard the path to the prettiest view of the park, and reached the equestrian statue of Frederick the Great, the creator of Sans Souci. In the back of this is the large Fountain, 130 feet in diameter, with a stream thrown to a height of 117!
The groups surrounding the basin represent the four elements and some well known mythological ladies and gentlemen such as Juno, Diana, Apollo, Merkur, and so on. In the back of this, steps led up to the chateau, and the entire view makes a most charming picture.
To give you an idea of the value of these statues, I mention a bust of Porphyr, which is at the foot of the terraces and was bought in 1742 for $25,000. If you had not read about it, you would pass it on for that many cents or even less.
Turning to the right, we came across another batch of the old gods, each on a bust and hiding among the green bushes, seemingly well aware of the fact that their time had passed by, and no one thinks of worshipping them. A beautiful iron gate stands out prominently from the green background of trees and bushes.
Almost hidden by bushes is the Muschelgrotte (shell grotto), in front of which is the statue of Frederick the Great as a youth. By an easy ascent, we reached the pretty chateau, in front of which there is a well-kept garden, surrounded by a balustrade bearing statues and vases with fountains, etc.
The rear of the chateau is very pretty, and the interior most interesting as it is left just about as it was when Frederick the Great occupied it. He was a great friend of the French writer, Voltaire.
We entered the Voltaire room, which has very pretty decorations in wood. In the dwelling room where he died on Aug. 17th, a beautiful marble statue representing the dying king in his chair, the questioning look in his eyes, is touching. The room is in gold decorations; the ceiling representing an immense spider web with a large spider.
His library, which contains all of his books, mostly French and many of them Voltaire’s writings, is most wonderfully preserved. It is made of cedar wood and other door is a book case, too. It is impossible to mention all of the wonderful things which we saw here and in the park.
A short walk brought us to the Sicilian Garden, a creation of Frederick Wm. IV who had the Orangerie haus or (Conservatory for Orange Trees) torn down and a beautiful garden laid out, in the midst of which is a bronze statue of an arrow shooting youth.
A climb upward past a sleeping Ariadne, almost hidden by bushes, and through a beautiful gate made of rocks and crowned by an immense eagle fighting with a snake, made of copper, to the Historical Windmill with the pretty house of the miller. A high wall protects the foundation of the Mill and is overgrown by ivy and other climbing vines. It was built in 1736 and was kept in repairs by the Kings on account of its picturesqueness.
Here in a very pretty restaurant we took our dinner. And now we ascended to the beautiful Orangerieshaus, built by Frederick Wilhelm to replace those torn down to create the Sicilian Garden. It consists of an imposing Main Building which is surmounted by two towers connected by a colonnade and two long corner buildings with high gates intervening.
In front of the Main Building are four statues representing Science, Industry, Architecture and Botany. In front is the statue of Fred Wm IV. In the niches are statues representing the 12 months and the four seasons.
In the garden in front are Astronomical Instruments which were adopted by the Prussians as a sort of souvenir of the little difficulty with the boxers in China. There are five of them—one a celestial globe, a sextant, two Armillarspheres and a Horizontalmesser. One of the Armillarspheres rests upon four dragons and has quite a respectable age, while the others are only 350 years old.
When I come home, I will tell you of what use they are to scientists, to me they are Chinese. A balustrade with two columns crowned by statues and several other statures surrounds the terrace and, leaning upon this, we had an excellent view of the terraces and wonderful arrangements of the gorgeous flower beds, fountains, etc.
Descending and passing a Zeus on a bust (there are lots of these old gods on a bust in this beautiful garden), we came to the Paradisegarten and thence to the Drachenhaus [Dragon House], built in 1756 in the style of a Chinese Pagoda.
Here we took coffee for Hermann’s sake who is a regular old Kaffe Schwester [coffee sister] and who can always find a convenient Kaffee Haus when his time approaches for a drink.
We had a look at the Belvedere built in 1769. It is a classic building with three balconies adorned by columns and many statues. Two large graceful staircases lead from the outside to the second story. The present emperor uses it as a Tea House and had it renovated. We walked long a narrow path, protected by a wall, from which we had good view of the vineyards and green houses where the fruit is raised for the emperor’s private use. He is so fond of it that it has to be sent to him when he is out of town.
Walking along a fine landstrasse adorned with four rows of immense Linden trees, we came to the Neue Palais which Frederick the Great built shortly after the Seven Years War in 1783. He wanted to show that his treasury was not emptied by the long war, and he also wished to give work to the artisans to help them. Anyhow, he was not stingy about it. It is a fine old palace, and William II, who lives here in summer, has managed to add considerable to its beauty.
In the rear of it are the commons with rooms for soldiers, courtiers, and the kitchen, the latter connect with the palace by a subterranean passage. Between the palace and the commons is a large court called the Mapke, where a military parade is held on the second day of Pentacost by the crack regiment the Lehr Infantry.
The emperor was absent but had left the keys so that we could see a few of the rooms anyhow. The emperor’s father, Frederick III, was born and died in this palace. The interior of the palace has more than 200 rooms. The rooms of Frederick the Great are left intact, the beautiful wall silk and tapestry has been removed and made by the same factory in Lyons who made the first ones. One room was made of Jaspis and adorned with large wall mirrors. Here small dinners are given, and 100 guests can be seated, while in another large room, 400 guests can be seated. The immense rugs are rolled up, and it takes 14 soldiers to handle one of these rugs.
The prettiest room is the shell room, which is decorated with shells and precious stones and minerals. Many of them are given to the emperor by friends, some of them by American admirers and, whenever there are enough accumulated, a layer of rock imitation is removed, and the precious stones and minerals inserted.
Here the Imperial family celebrates Christmas. Two large trees are placed between two immense columns for the Emperor and his consort and a tree for each one of the children, smaller in size according to their ages. The entire room can be lit by electric lights and is said to look like a fairy scene when all lit up.
The dance salon and many other rooms were shown to us and many valuable pictures, too, among them Rubens’ “Adoration of the Three Kings.”
We returned to Berlin by rail and had a walk through the beautiful Tiergarten. Took a bus to the Rheingold restaurant. You can ride a considerable distance in the buses for 5 Pfennigs, (1-1/4 cents). I read that in the month of May, 7.5 million of these tickets at 5 Pfennigs were used.
Well, I must close. I ought to have written and sent this some days ago, but we have been so busy sight seeing that we have not been able to do any writing. I will try to write the balance of our Berlin days by next Monday and mail it on that day.
Good bye for the present, I am writing this in Wernigerode, and, tomorrow, we will take the train for Schierke and see Cousin Adolf and Max. God bless and keep you. Dad.