Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Home to 'Old Fritz'; Sanssouci Houses the Grave of Germany's Greatest Ever Ruler

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Home to 'Old Fritz'; Sanssouci Houses the Grave of Germany's Greatest Ever Ruler

Article excerpt

Potsdam fast facts:

Potsdam is the capital and largest city of the German federal state of Brandenburg.

It directly borders the German capital Berlin and is part of the Berlin/Brandenburg metropolitan region and is situated on the River Havel, 24km (15 miles) south-west of Berlin's city center.

Potsdam was a residence of the Prussian kings and the German Kaiser until 1918.

TRAVEL

with John Bishop

THE grave of Germany's greatest ever ruler is often decorated with fresh potatoes.

It's a bizarre tribute to Frederick the Great, or Old Fritz as he is known, and his grave is a very modest slab of stone with just a few words of German on it.

Frederick II was King of Prussia from 1740-86 and is buried in a small grove at his favourite palace of Sanssouci, in the town of Potsdam, next to the graves of his beloved greyhounds and surrounded by busts of famous Roman Emperors.

Frederick is credited with introducing the potato to Germany, and he did so in a very cunning way. He planted the potato in his own fields amid great secrecy and had the fields protected by guards. The guards were told to let the locals steal the plants, which they duly did, and grew them as their own.

Potatoes are a staple in the German diet, and dropping potatoes on his grave is a tribute to the man who gave this vegetable to the nation.

In the Seven Years War (1756-63), Frederick led his armies to victory after initial defeats and in the peace that followed Prussia was recognised as one of the great powers in Europe.

He also did much to modernise the military and the bureaucracy and championed the new wave of ideas called the Enlightenment, hosting the French philosopher Voltaire at his palace in Potsdam for many years.

His summer palace at Sanssouci ('without a care' in French) was built in 1745-47 in a rococo style and is a model of modesty; only 12 rooms which makes it tiny by comparison to the lavish Baroque style SchA[paragraph]nbrunn Palace in Vienna or the opulent Palace of Versailles in France. …

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