I guess, when you’re a king, you won’t ever have to built a single castle in the air, instead you might even built them out of thin air. Just for fun, for a laugh, ha-ha-ha. To be fair, Frederick the Great built some of them, like the Neue Palais, for other reasons, for real statesmanly reasons like entertaining other kings or have a ball with diplomats, ambassadors, and such, but Sans Souci, he did built for nothing but pleasure. In winter, the joyfulness of it all might be less visible, but the architectural finesse of the ensemble is to be experienced at its very best.
My parents’ home has three garages. There’s one for the car, of course, one for the kit and kaboodle and all other kinds of stuff such as fertilisers for every sort of rhododendron and azalea, the lawnmover and terracotta pots of various sizes, and one for the garden furniture – the latter we call the orangerie. Pure irony, of course, we’re quite ironic a family, but as the years went by, the irony got lost somehow, and now, we all think of this garage as of our orangerie. How very absurd that is came to my mind just this Sunday, when visiting the New Orangerie at the Royal Parks in Potsdam, built under the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, I laughed out loud, as its left wing alone could easily house half of Wyoming, I understand, Wyoming is not very crowded, and I can’t come up with any other references. Anyway, the New Orangerie, an example of the revival of Italian Renaissance, a style popular in the 1850s among the royal and famous, doesn’t house that many people any longer anyway, the opulent guest chamber in malachite is currently only visited by tourists, but all those beautiful and well cared palm trees, oleanders and lemon trees that adorn the gardens and parks in summer, and as there are such a lot of them, the size of that building is really not that exaggerated. Prussian kings were obviously quite modest. Just ask Voltaire, he’ll tell you.
Despite a very white sky, not grey, just really white, hate that colour on a sky, I felt like not having another cup of tea, but like strolling through Potsdam’s palaces and gardens, I needed some splendour, some king’s extravaganzas to lift me up, and Friedrich II’s summer residence Sans Souci, his pleasure palace outside of Berlin, would definitely do the trick, its rooms are just magnificent, rococo at its very best, but once I arrived after a 45 minute commute, I wanted to stay outside, even at temperatures below zero, every little puddle was frozen, just to catch up with nature, listen to the birds while walking through all those gardens, from Sans Souci to the Chinese teahouse, from the New Palais, new means, it’s from seventeensixtysomething, from the New Chambers to the Orangerie, some marathonic palace hopping so to speak, you see, the eye has to travel, once said Diana Vreeland, and so my eyes and I went on an extended trip, a very extended trip, through all kinds of architectural styles, we’re still quite exhausted from it, I’m blaming all those stairs, they’re all very beautiful, even perfect, but still, why did they have to construct so many of them? I feel like having spent way too much time on the stairmaster.