Schloss Charlottenburg

Lonely Planet review

The grandest of Berlin’s surviving nine former royal pads is Schloss Charlottenburg. It consists of the main palace and two outbuildings in the lovely Schlossgarten (palace park). Each building charges separate admission, but it’s best to invest in the Tageskarte that gives you an entire day to see everything except the Neuer Flügel (New Wing). Come early on weekends and in summer. A palace visit is easily combined with a spin around the trio of nearby museums.

The Schloss began as the summer residence of Sophie Charlotte, wife of King Friedrich I. Their baroque living quarters in the palace’s oldest section, the Altes Schloss, are an extravaganza in stucco, brocade and overall opulence. Highlights include the Oak Gallery, a wood-panelled festival hall draped in family portraits; the lovely Oval Hall with views of the gardens; Friedrich I’s bedchamber, with the first-ever bathroom in a baroque palace; and the fabulous Porcelain Chamber, smothered top to bottom in Chinese and Japanese blue ware. Head upstairs to admire the paintings, vases, tapestries, weapons, porcelain and other items essential to a royal lifestyle in the old apartments of Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

The most beautiful rooms, though, are the flamboyant private chambers of Frederick the Great in the Neuer Flügel, designed by star architect du jour Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff in 1746. The austere neoclassical ones of his successor, Friedrich Wilhelm II, in the same wing, pale in comparison.

Adjacent to the Neuer Flügel, the Schinkel-designed Neuer Pavillon served as a summer retreat of Friedrich Wilhelm III and now houses paintings from the Romantic and Biedermeier periods.

In fine weather, a spin around the sprawling Schlossgarten (palace park) with its shady walkways, flower beds and manicured lawns is a must. In the northeast corner, you’ll stumble upon the pint-size palace called Belvedere, now an elegant setting for porcelain masterpieces by the royal manufacturer KPM.

Across the carp pond awaits the sombre Mausoleum, where various royals, including Emperor Wilhelm I and his wife, are entombed in fancy marble sarcophagi.