Potsdam and Magdeburg

We took two trips at the end of our journey in Germany. Our first stop, Potsdam, we took a train from Stendal to Rathenow where we switched trains and from there we made our way to Berlin. Once in Berlin, we made our way to the platform that would take us to Potsdam. The first part we did on our own except for meeting Tanya on the train at one of the stops between Rathenow and Berlin. After arriving in Potsdam, we looked around in the train station and grabbed something to eat. Our plan was to leave the station and make our way to the palace. Along the way we stopped to view a building that was being renovated from damaged received in World War II in the Altert Markt square. Including St. Nicholas’s Church and the Fort
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St. Nicholas’s Church

There are three gates from the original city wall remain today. We were able to see one gate that was built in 1770, the Potsdam Brandenburg Gate, not to be confused with the Berlin Brandenburg Gate.
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Potsdam Brandenburg Gate

The main reason for our visit was Schloss Sanssouci is the former summer palace of Fredrick the Great, the King of Prussia. The palace was built with the purpose of relaxation instead of a power seat to conduct business. This concept is represented in its name, when translated “sans souci” is a French phrase, which means “without concerns”. We walked from the Brandenburg Gate to the palace and were greeted with gates made of iron and gold overlay.
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Gate leading into the palace and garden

We did not take the main entrance into the palace grounds, but instead went through a side garden and building. There we saw a church complete with long halls and a courtyard containing a prodomient sculpture of Jesus looking out into the gardens.
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Photo of Christ’s statue

As we continued our walk, we eventually arrived at the bottom of the terraced gardens. The gardens included had a long walk up to the actual palace via six flights of stairs (132 steps!), several garden beds and marble statues surrounding a fountain in the center. The photo below is a view looking up the stairs.

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Beginning our ascent

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We made it to the top!

After making it to the top, we had a chance to look around at the building before going inside for the tour of the palace. Unfortunately, we were unable to take photos inside the building because it would have cost extra. The inside was amazing, and something that I will remember for a long time.
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Garden side view of Sanssouci

However, the most memorable part of our day trip to Potsdam was the train ride home. We were taking the train back and knew that we would be on our own once again toward the end of our trip. Tanja left us between Berlin and Rathenow, and we made the rest of the journey alone. That is where our story becomes interesting. About two minutes before arriving in Rathenow, our train came to a complete stop and we stayed there for about three to five minutes before moving on to the train station. We knew that we had to get off our train and go to the opposite track to get on the train to Stendal. However, when we approached the train on the opposite track we were told repeatedly in German that we could not get on the train. As we looked at the train, we realized that there was it, and there were several people standing around not knowing what to do or where to go. This alarmed us because we had no phone or anyway of contacting someone to find out what was going on and therefore we had to be resourceful. We managed to find someone who spoke English and ask her if she knew what was going on but all she could tell us was that we could not get that train. We then found a train conductor who informed us that the train to Stendal would be arriving in two minutes. After getting on the train that arrived after the other train left, we were once again worried because if we could not find the train to take, we would be stranded in Rathenow. The train arrived and we decided to get on regardless of where it was going! As we boarded the train, we realized that we have picked up a little bit of the language or at least deciphering what someone was saying because a fellow passenger went to the front of the train. Next to where we were sitting, and asked the train workers if this was the train going to Stendal. Once she was done, we said, “Excuse me” to her, “Stendal?” and she informed us yes. We were finally relieved to know that we were on the correct train and heading home.

The second stop was Magdeburg to see the campus and the cathedral. Tanja went with us on the train from Stendal to Magdeburg, and once in Magdeburg we met Tanja’s sister. They both guided us in the city and took us to the main college campus. We walked around the campus, which is larger than the one in Stendal because the Stendal campus is a satellite school of the Hochshule of Magdeburg. The campus was about the same size or slightly bigger than Upstate’s campus. Some of the buildings were used by the Russians during the World War II the same as the Stendal campus.

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Building on Campus

We left the campus, and took the tram back into town. We got off and made our way to the farmer’s market. We also saw the town hall protected by Roland and the church where the Protestant revolutionary, Martin Luther, preached.

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Church where Luther preached

After leaving the farmer’s market, we took the tram to the cathedral but stopped to look at a very interesting building that is famous for its architecture called the Hundertwasserhaus. The architect, Friedrich Stowasser better known as Friedensreich Hundertwasser, was an Austrian artist. Hundertwasser despised straight lines and insisted on painting and building without using them. He built several buildings with this philosophy. The Green Citadel is the last building he was involved in and was completed in 2005 (five years after his death).

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Die Grüne Zitadelle von Magdeburg
(The Green Citadel in Magdeburg)

The Cathedral of Magdeburg, officially called Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice, that we went to is over 700 years old. It is the oldest gothic cathedral in Germany. The current cathedral is built over the original church from 937 that was an abbey called St. Maurice. The entire original church was destroyed during the fire of 1207 except for the south cloister. The building was torn down with the exception of the south wall but was not finished until 1520. The cathedral changed from Catholic to Protestant and back again several times. The cathedral survived the Thirty Years War and the bombings of World War II.

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The front door

The cathedral has extremely high ceilings and takes your breath away when looking at the intricate carvings of stone throughout the building. The church is constantly undergoing repair due to damaged it has sustained throughout the years. There is a courtyard surrounded by corridors that visitors can walk around because going onto the grass is forbidden in order to preserve the grounds. Along the walls around the courtyard, there are graves built into the walls. We were able to go below the church to view the original foundation and stones that were used to build the church, which were excavated in 2003. The church is still in use today with the largest service being Christmas.


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View of the Cathedral facing east

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The ornate pulpit