Prussia 1701 - A European Affair

Daniel Snowman previews a new exhibition in Berlin.

If you drive in to Berlin from Tegel airport in the north-west of the city, keep an eye on your right for the blue-domed, gold-topped Charlottenburg Palace, the finest Baroque building in town. It wasn’t in town when, originally no more than a charming villa, it was constructed three hundred years ago. On the contrary, the palace was built as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte of Hanover, the young wife of the Elector of Brandenburg – near enough to Berlin that she could attend the capital when required, yet a pleasantly rustic location on a lazy bend on the River Spree. Today, the district is one of the wealthiest in Berlin.

Some see Schloss Charlottenburg, with its extravagantly beautiful rooms hung with portraits of bewigged royals and generals, and its extensive Orangery, as Germany’s equivalent of London’s Kensington Palace. The links between the Schloss Charlottenburg and London are certainly close: Sophie Charlotte’s brother became George I of England, and in 1888 this was where Vicky, Queen Victoria’s daughter, grieved over the decline and premature death of her husband ‘Fritz’ with their son – who thereby became Kaiser.

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