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Französische Kirche (French Church)
Französische Kirche

The Französische Kirche (French Church) stands on the southeast edge of Bassinplatz (Bassin Square). As a result of the devastation of the Second World War, it is the oldest surviving church in the historic centre of Potsdam. Frederick the Great had the church built from 1751 to 1753 as a gift for the Huguenot community in the city. It main feature is a domed portico modelled after the Pantheon in Rome. The church served as a symbol of the Prussian king’s enlightened policies on immigration and religious tolerance.

The first Huguenots settled in Potsdam following the 1685 Edict of Tolerance under the rule of the Great Elector Frederick William. They attended their first religious services in the town chapel. When Frederick the Great wanted to rebuild the chapel for private use, he offered to build the French Church as a replacement. Located on former marshland, the laying of the church’s foundation was led by Dutch architect Jan Bouman. Bouman left the architectural designs for the church to Georg Wenceslaus von Knobelsdorff, who at the time was seriously ill. His past work included the Berlin Opera House and the Sanssouci Palace. Knobelsdorff died on 16 September 1753 - on the very day that Frederick the Great gifted the French Church to the Huguenots of Potsdam.

During the Napoleonic occupation between 1806 and 1808, the French Church suffered the fate of most churches in Potsdam. The building was used by the French Cavalry as a horse stable and feed magazine, which led to significant damage. This damage along with small design flaws in the original construction meant the church was in need of repair, and reconstruction work led by Karl Friedrich Schinkel was carried out during the 1830s. The simple character of the interior was maintained, although the pulpit was moved to give a forward-facing orientation. In the late nineteenth century, other small upgrades were added in the Wilhelminist style of the time. Although a bombing raid on Potsdam on 14 April 1945 nearly destroyed the entire French Quarter, the French Church remained virtually unharmed. After the war, the church fell into disrepair and it was temporarily closed. Extensive renovations beginning in the 1990s have restored the church to its original beauty. Today, the bright and inviting building hosts both religious services and cultural events.

The oval French Church is approximately 21.5 metres by 17 metres. There is a gabled portico on the south side, and the church has an impressive copper-covered, free-standing dome that is relatively flat. In accordance to the French reformed order of service, the interior church has an unadorned altar and there are no images and crosses. Symbolising charity and hope, two large sandstone figures on either side of the church’s entrance are from sculptor Friedrich Christian Glume. Also worth seeing is the baroque Grüneberg organ dating back to 1783.

French Church map

Events in Potsdam

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Music Festival in Potsdam

The Music Festival in Potsdam will be held again in June. This year's theme "Music and gardens" ubiquitous. So even on the opening day in June. Interesting and unique you can take guided tours and visits to many different places. For those interested there is an Opera Workshop.

TICKETS

Details about the Music Festival in Potsdam can be found here.

The concert on the eve and Night of the Palaces in Potsdam

The Park of Sanssouci and Sanssouci Palace with its terraced vineyards and the New Palace are undisputedly the most important monuments in Potsdam, therefore provides the Night of the Palaces as an excellent temporal orientation, to learn more about the state capital of Brandenburg.

TICKETS

Details about the Night of the Palaces can be found here.

Miscellaneous

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Official Contact

Official Park Sanssouci Contact

The Foundation for Prussian Palaces and Gardens.

Phone : +49 (0)331/9694-0

Fax : +49 (0)331/9694-107