February 21, 2018

Forbidden in Potsdam

The history of Potsdam Germany includes its glory days as the playground for the rich, famous and Prussian Kings, the years spent behind the “Iron Curtain” and today where it is experiencing a rebirth.

One of Potsdam’s darkest hours started at the end of World War II and ran until the fall of the Berlin Wall. During this time this once vibrant and beautiful city suddenly developed spots that were forbidden.

Crossing the Glienicke Bridge Potsdam Germany

Crossing the Glienicke Bridge Potsdam Germany

Sitting at the west side of Berlin, Potsdam was cut off from the capital city once the Berlin wall was erected. The Glienicke Bridge, which spans the Havel River and connects Potsdam to West Berlin, was closed to citizens from both sides and earned its nickname, Bridge of Spies, by being the location where many captured spies were exchanged. Today the bridge is open to traffic but in the dark days it was a forbidden spot in Potsdam.

The Havel River from the bridge Potsdam Germany

The Havel River from the bridge Potsdam Germany

When the Soviets came to power, one neighborhood within Potsdam became forbidden. This area was walled in and became known as the “little Soviet Union” because the Soviets took over the beautiful villas in the neighborhood moving the KGB in and residents out.

Belvedere on top of Pfingstberg Potsdam Germany

Belvedere on top of Pfingstberg Potsdam Germany

Potsdam’s highest hill, the Pfingstberg, is a wonderful place to hike and has amazing views over the region. But during the occupation, it was closed to the public and became known as the “Forbidden City”. Those views the public loved so much happened to include KGB headquarters and other sites important to the Soviets!

Reflecting Pool Belvedere Potsdam Germany

Reflecting Pool Belvedere Potsdam Germany

The views were also the reason this hill was selected by Frederick Wilhelm IV to be the home for the Belvedere. Designed after Italian Renaissance castles, construction began in 1847. The Belvedere was to be part of a larger castle project which never came to fruition. Today the Belvedere has been restored and still has its gorgeous views but is also a peaceful place to wander the Roman style building, hike or attend one of the concerts held on top of the hill that was once forbidden to all.

Columns inside Belvedere Potsdam Germany

Columns inside Belvedere Potsdam Germany


These pictures are part of Travel Photo Thursday! For more great pictures,make sure to check out Budget Travelers Sandbox.

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  8. Sophie says:

    Such a pretty city Potsdam, with all its palaces and gardens. And interesting even beyond World War II. Lots here I didn’t know – so thanks for sharing Debbie.
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  9. Thanks for sharing this important bit of Potsdam’s history, Debbie. It must have been horrible to have the KGB take over your city. Lovely photos of the Belvedere.
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  10. What an amazing history – spies and all!

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  11. Sere says:

    What a fascinating history! I would have hated to just be moved out of my beautiful house and then watch as the KGB just moved in. Must have been awful! So glad that the city is no longer closed or forbidden :).
    Sere recently posted..Wanderlust Wednesday – May Day Garden Park

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Potsdam is doing a look of reconstructing and it is great to see! Would love to go back.

  12. kirsten says:

    I didn’t know much about this area until my recent visit to Germany. Wish I had time to explore this area more.

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Even though I’ve been to Germany many times, I am still exploring all her nooks and crannies too! Wish I had time to do more 🙂

  13. The Belvedere looks beautiful and with great architecture. What an interesting past and it’s too bad it was cut off from the rest for awhile. It all sounds so intriguing though. I can just imagine the scenic views from the hill.
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  14. budget jan says:

    Lovely photos. No wonder it was the forbidden city overlooking KGB Headquarters.
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  15. Leigh says:

    The bridge looks so nondescript it’s hard to imagine it had such a history with spies. What a dark time in Potsdam history. Hard to imagine being kicked out of one’s house and still getting on with one’s life.
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    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      While the views are beautiful, the bridge is pretty bland. It just gives me a creepy feeling looking at it though!

  16. Hi Debbie, I’m sort of familiar with the spies bridge through reading lots of cold war spy books. It’s good to finally see a visual of it. Thank God that Pfingstberg is no longer a forbidden city. Would love to see the great view from it when i visit. Soon I hope!
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    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      We must read very similar books because I feel like I’m very familiar with some of these spy related spots too! It was great to see this and relive some of the great books I’ve spent so much time with 🙂

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