The Neues Palais, or New Palace, a grand residence on the large Sanssouci Park of Frederick II of Prussia (1712-1786), was commissioned at the end of the Seven Years’ War to advertise the strength of Prussia’s finances, despite the years of battle. Sanssouci, which means “without care,” was the name given to the summer estate Frederick II had built earlier, in 1744. The New Palace was a counterpart to the earlier, more modest Sanssouci Palace, which Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great, preferred for himself. Completed in 1769, the New Palace anchors the western end of the park’s main promenade, presenting a long garden façade of red faux brick with Corinthian pilasters in the colossal order (the pilasters reaching from the basement to nearly the top of the wall). In addition to many guest rooms and private apartments for the king, the palace housed several large reception halls and a magnificent theater, still in operation. Later in its history, the New Palace was the preferred residence of Kaiser Wilhelm II until his abdication in 1918. A museum since the time of the Weimar Republic, most of the New Palace’s interiors were preserved, although objects were removed to the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.
Exquisitely crafted parquet floors and wall coverings
World Monuments Fund helped the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation (Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten) to restore four rooms of the Lower Royal Suite (Unteres Fürstenquartier) of the New Palace. The rooms, on the ground floor of the main wing, overlook the formal garden. Members of the royal family and their guests could withdraw to these intimately sized rooms for privacy and seclusion. The suite consists of a dining room known as the Braided Room (Tressenzimmer), a concert room (Konzertzimmer), an oval-shaped cabinet resembling a bower (Ovales Kabinett), and an antechamber (Vorraum). Restoration focused on exquisitely crafted parquet floors and wall coverings such as the red silk damask with gold braided trimmings after which the Braided Room is named. In the Konzertzimmer, missing furnishings were reconstructed. The project, which also had the support of the Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung (East German Savings Bank Foundation) together with Mittelbrandenburgische Sparkasse in Potsdam finished in 2012 in time for Frederick the Great’s tricentennial.
Because of their incomplete state of conservation, the four rooms of the Lower Royal Suite had not been open to the public for more than 20 years. In addition to preserving the artistry and craftsmanship of sculptors, plasterers, varnishers, and painters of the era of Frederick the Great, this project allowed these spaces to be appreciated by the public. As the grandest building on the grounds of Sanssouci, the New Palace is a key monument of the World Heritage Site of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin.