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Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin – Visit a Prussian Fairytale (2024)!

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Berlin isn’t typically a place that people visit for palaces but you must make an exception for the majestic Charlottenburg Palace. 

It’s the largest and most important Prussian residence in the city and was originally built for Queen Sophie-Charlotte as a summer retreat in the 17th century.

Today, it’s a large museum where you can feel like royalty as you explore the rococo galleries, ornate ballrooms and planned gardens. 

This was easily one of the highlights of my recent trip to Berlin as it was an oasis away from the busy streets and a bit of a hidden gem.

It was truly a Prussian fairytale and I couldn’t help but think of Beauty and the Beast the entire time I was here. You must add it to your German bucket list. 

Here is a complete guide for visiting Schloss Charlottenburg, a Prussian fairytale in Berlin! 

Berlin Charlottenburg Palace Golden Gallery
Golden Gallery
Schloss Charlottenburg Berlin

Charlottenburg Palace history 

The original palace was commissioned by Sophie-Charlotte who married Friedrich III, the Elector of Brandenburg, in 1684.

He gifted her some land in the village of Lietzow just outside of Berlin and so it had the name Lietzenburg Palace. It was finally completed as a summer residence in 1699. 

Many of the living quarters were designed by Sophie-Charlotte who was vastly intelligent and a great lover of the arts.

This palace is often called the ‘palace of muses’ as she’d invite famous poets, artists and philosophers to join her.

Even her husband could only visit the palace if she extended him an invitation!

Charlottenburg Palace Berlin

After Frederick became King of Prussia in 1701, the new queen needed to impress her court and so she wanted many of her rooms redesigned to reflect her new royal status.

Unfortunately, she wouldn’t live to see her designs fully completed. She died in 1705 at just 36 and Frederick renamed the palace Charlottenburg in her honour

The Prussian royals continued to use Charlottenburg as the preferred summer residence.

Frederick II the Great made several extensions like adding the New Wing, theatre hall and orangeries in the 1740s. 

Schloss Charlottenburg New Wing
New Wing

Queen Luise also made several updates to the palace. She was very popular with her people and lived here with Frederick III in the New Wing during their reign. 

Like Sophie-Charlotte, Luise also died young at 34 and her husband created a mausoleum for her.

After that, it became a state building and even Napoleon used it as his office once upon a time after he conquered Berlin in 1806 following the battle of Battle of Jena-Auerstedt.

Unfortunately, the palace was majorly destroyed during WWII and many of the precious artefacts and paintings inside were looted. 

However, significant efforts have been made to restore the palace to its former glory and Prussia’s royal summer residence now welcomes visitors once more!

Schloss Charlottenburg Palace lake reflection

Can you visit Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin?

Yes, today Charlottenburg Palace is open to the public as a museum and makes a magical half-day trip from the centre of Berlin. 

Exploring this palace was easily one of the highlights of my trip as I loved feeling like royalty exploring all the beautiful rooms.

The palace is famous due to its sweeping landscaped gardens, ornate baroque rococo staterooms and portrait galleries.

It houses one of the largest collections of 18th-century French portraits outside of France.

Charlottenburg Porcelain Cabinet
Porcelain Cabinet in Altes Schloss

You’ll find the palace a little further out of the city centre in the Charlottenburg district close to the River Spree. It’s easy to visit via public transport;

Buses: There is a bus stop at Luisenplatz and it drops you right outside the palace.

S-Bahn: you can take the S-Bahn to the stations of Westend or Jungfernheide.

U-Bahn: the closest stations are the U7 service (blue line) with Richard-Wagner Platz or you can stop at Sophie-Charlotte Platz via the U2 service (orange line). 

Taxis: Uber and Bolt work well in Berlin. However, I found that FreeNow was a little more reliable. 

Schloss Charlottenburg Palace Berlin

Is Charlottenburg Palace free?

No, you have to pay to go inside Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin but it is well worth the money. 

If you buy a Charlottenburg+ ticket (€19), you get access to the Old Palace, New Wing, Belvedere Tea Room, Mausoleum and New Pavilion. 

The Schlossgarten, however, is completely free and is well worth seeing if you have the time. 

Even though you’re still in the city, these gardens feel like a world apart from the crowds and traffic. I’m sure that’s why so many joggers and dog walkers go.

It’s an oasis of nature with walking paths, parterres, flower beds and a grand lake. There’s also lots of wildlife to spot such as herons, crows and Mandarin ducks!

Charlottenburg Palace Gardens
Schlossgarten

Is it worth going inside Charlottenburg Palace?

Yes, if you have the time and the budget, I would highly recommend paying to go inside Schloss Charlottenburg.

The Old Palace and the New Wing have some of the most spectacular Baroque architecture in all of Germany.

The highlights of the Old Gallery, Porcelain Cabinet and Golden Gallery are all breathtaking rooms that make it worth the splurge. 

The entire place felt like a Prussian fairytale and I loved wandering through all the ornate festival halls feeling like a princess. 

White Hall, New Wing

Things to do in Schloss Charlottenburg 

You could easily spend an entire day wandering around this royal Prussian residence as there is SO much to do. 

From admiring ornate staterooms to exploring the silver vault and Prussian family portrait gallery. 

There are also two orangeries, a music hall, a café, a gift shop, extensive planned gardens, a porcelain collection and a mausoleum! So, make sure to leave lots of time for your visit.

Here are all the things to do in Charlottenburg Palace on a day trip; 

Schloss Charlottenburg Theatre
Charlottenburg Palace Berlin

Altes Schloss (Old Palace) 

The Old Palace is filled with gorgeous rooms that were used by Queen Sophie-Charlotte and Frederick the First. 

Before Frederick became king, many of the rooms were designed by Sophie-Charlotte and brought art and nature inside. 

The Glass Bedchamber, for example, was built to reflect the lawns of the gardens.

Altes Schloss Old Gallery

The highlights in the Altes Schloss include the Baroque Parade Apartments, audience chambers and antechambers.

These were redesigned after the couple became the first King and Queen of Prussia. So, they were built to impress their new court.

I particularly loved the Old Gallery, the Red Damask chamber, the Sophie-Charlotte-inspired audience chamber and the bed chamber of Frederick the First. 

Sophie Charlotte Waiting Chamber

Porcelain Cabinet 

One of the rooms that took my breath away in the Old Palace was the spectacular Porcelain Cabinet with mirrors and gold.  

The walls are covered in nearly 3,000 thousand pieces of Chinese and Japanese blue chinaware, as well as jade statues, toys and priceless vases! 

This room used to have more in its collection but, unfortunately, much of the porcelain was damaged or looted during WWII. 

I could have looked at the details in every piece for an age as it seemed to be limitless. 

Charlottenburg Palace Porcelain Cabinet

Eosander Chapel

The palace chapel is also known as the Eosander Chapel as it was constructed by the Royal architect Johann Friedrich von Eosander.

It’s a spectacular space with colourful murals, ceiling frescoes, statues and golden triumphal arches. 

Charlottenburg Palace chapel

The family weren’t catholic so this decor is surprisingly lavish but Frederick the First wanted to portray his divine right to rule. 

So, he made this space as ornate as possible with an imperial crown in the talons of a Prussian eagle. 

The Baroque organ inside was built by Arp Schnitger in 1706.

Charlottenburg Palace chapel Prussian eagle

This is such a beautiful space to relax in and I bet the acoustics would be wonderful in here!

After your visit, you can ascend the ceremonial staircase to the Hohenzollern exhibitions which are located around the main tower. 

Eosander Chapel Charlottenburg Palace
Ceremonial Staircase Charlottenburg Palace

Prussian Royal House Exhibition 

I have to admit, as it was my first visit to Berlin, I didn’t know too much about the Prussian royal family. 

So, I loved the portrait gallery and exhibitions that take you on a visual journey of the Hohenzollern Dynasty through the centuries. 

Their journey is quite something as they went from the Electors of Brandenburg and Prussian monarchs to uniting all the states of Germany and ruling over an empire!

Prussian Royal family exhibition Charlottenburg Palace

It all ended with the German Revolution in 1918 when the family were overthrown and the Weimar Republic began. 

But, it may surprise you to know that the princes of the Prussia and Swabia branches of House Hohenzollern are still very much alive today. 

Prussian Royal House Exhibition
Prussian Royal House Exhibition

Hohenzollern Silver Vault

Another permanent exhibition I enjoyed browsing was the Silver Vault. This contained a large collection of Hohenzollern Silver amongst other precious artefacts.

It was mainly ornate tableware and centrepieces that were used to impress guests who dined with the royal family.  

But, they also had porcelain, gold, chalices and jewellery on display. I found a few gorgeous signet rings I wouldn’t mind wearing. 

You can also get a closer look at Frederick the Great’s rather ostentatious collection of snuffboxes. Snuff was a type of smokeless tobacco that aristocrats used to sniff.

They are ridiculously ornate and made of pure gold with oodles of precious jewels and diamonds. 

Before you go, you’ll end your tour of the Altes Schloss in the stunning mirrored oval gallery with sweeping views of the gardens.

This again reminded me of the ballroom in Beauty and the Beast!

Oval Gallery Charlottenburg Palace
Oval Gallery
Silver Vault Charlottenburg
Hohenzollern Silver

New Wing (Neuer Flügel)

King Frederick II had Charlottenburg Palace expanded with a New Wing at the same time as constructing Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam during the 1740s.

This extension included the grand festival halls such as the White Hall and Golden Gallery.

This hall was used as a dining room and throne room and the gallery was installed for music and dancing with several adjoining apartments. 

Schloss Charlottenburg
New Wing

He also created the Chinese and Etruscan rooms, the East Indian tea room, and the Silver-Plated Chamber.

A large orangery was installed and a theatre for concerts which are still held on special occasions nowadays.

The beloved Queen Luise used these apartments often with her husband King Frederick III during their reign. You can see her beautiful bedroom as part of your tour!

Queen Luise Bedchamber Charlottenburg
Queen Luise bedchamber

The portrait galleries here are outstanding and contain many 18th-century French paintings including pieces by Antoine Watteau. 

Look out for a famous piece The Embarkation for Cythera. It portrays happy couples travelling to the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, fertility and beauty! 

As a lot of the palace was destroyed or looted during WWII so much of this wing is a reconstruction with rehoused artwork and furniture. 

But it paints a detailed picture of how these rooms were used by the Prussian Royal Family years ago.

Statues in the New Wing Charlottenburg
Schloss Charlottenburg New Wing

Golden Gallery 

The room I was most excited to see at Charlottenburg Palace was the magnificent Golden Gallery in the New Wing. 

It was created in the 1740s by Johann August Nahl and is seen as one of the most spectacular Rococo creations in all of Europe. 

While guests dined in the White Hall, this opulent space was created as a ballroom for musical concerts and dancing.

Schloss Charlottenburg Golden Gallery

I gasped as I entered the room. It felt like I was walking through a fairytale with all the gorgeous gold mirrors, chandeliers and mirrored statues of Flora and Zephyr.

As this was the room I was most excited to see, I started my journey here at opening time rather than the Altes Schloss which you’re ‘meant’ to do.

So, I got to see the room empty for around 30 minutes before the tour groups came in and got some great empty photos!

Golden Gallery Schloss Charlottenburg
Golden Gallery Charlottenburg Palace

Schlossgarten Charlottenburg 

Wandering around the planned gardens here felt like going back in time or that I had entered the set of a German period drama! 

There were several parterres lined with colourful flowers, gorgeous statues of Cupid, and a monumental fountain with stunning views of the palace in the backdrop. 

This park can be very popular with joggers and dog walkers and can fill up in warm weather. So, I’d visit early morning for a quieter experience.

Schloss Charlottenburg Berlin

The grounds were originally designed by the French architect Siméon Godeau.

He was a pupil of André le Nôtre, the principal gardener of King Louis XIV at the Palace of Versailles! 

The fashion for gardens later changed and then it was transformed into an English landscape garden.

Charlottenburg Palace Gardens

One of the best parts of exploring these gardens is the postcard-worthy views you can get of the Schloss over the lake from the ornamental bridge. 

You can see the palace’s Fortuna tower and gardens reflected in the water and it makes a fabulous photo opportunity.

Honestly, this view felt like walking through an oil painting. Especially with all the majestic herons flying over my head! 

After you can sit and relax by the water. I saw so many Mandarin Ducks whilst I was here. They are my favourite ducks as they are so colourful. 

Schloss Charlottenburg Palace lake reflection

Belvedere Tea House 

Another beautiful building you can visit in the Schlossgarten is the Belvedere Tea House near the River Spree. 

It was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, who built the Brandenburg Gate and was constructed for King Frederick William II as his private sanctuary. 

It was levelled during WWII and so it had to be completely rebuilt during the renovations.

Today, it houses the world’s largest collection of Königliches Porzellanmanufaktur Berlin Porcelain or KPM which was established by Frederick the Great in 1763. 

Unfortunately, the Belvedere was closed on my visit temporarily for renovations. Hopefully, this will reopen soon! 

Belvedere Tea House
Belvedere Tea House

Mausoleum 

When exploring the grounds, you will see signs for the Charlottenburg Mausoleum which is the tomb for the Hohenzollern family.

After the sudden death of Queen Luise in 1810, Frederick William III had an ancient temple built on the grounds for his beloved wife to eternally rest.  

It was expanded by Frederick William IV after his father’s death and the Hall of Remembrance contains four carved marble epitaphs. 

Charlottenburg Mausoleum
Charlottenburg Mausoleum

On the first row, nearest the altar, is Kaiser Wilheim I and to his left is his wife Queen Augusta. The other grave statues are of Frederick William III and his wife Queen Luise.

Luise’s statue is the most detailed of them all and was expertly carved in Carrara marble by sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch. 

Directly under the statues are their coffins but they are in a crypt not accessible to the public. However, there is a photo with a reference map of coffin locations. 

If you don’t have a Charlottenburg+ ticket you can pay to visit the Mausoleum for €3. I thought it was breathtaking inside and well worth paying a visit. 

Charlottenburg Mausoleum

New Pavilion 

The New Pavilion was built in the gardens on the orders of King Frederick William III and was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

It was built in a Neapolitan Italian style and the design is similar to Glienicke Palace near Potsdam. 

The King used this pavilion as his summer house and private retreat. Unfortunately, this was destroyed during WWII but has now been completely restored. 

Again, this was temporarily closed on my visit. But, it’s supposed to have a nice statue and portrait gallery inside. 

New Pavilion Charlottenburg Palace

Kleine Orangerie Café

After all of that exploring, you can relax in the Kleine Orangerie Café on the grounds opposite the music hall. 

This restaurant sells all sorts of light lunches, coffees, soft drinks and some wonderful homemade cakes if you want to treat yourself.

I was assured that the best cake was the Königin Luise cake. This was made of chocolate and marzipan and had a sugar paper portrait of Queen Luise on top that you could eat!

I always love these kitsch monarchy treats in Europe and I’m happy to report it was delicious.

The café itself was also full of character having all sorts of bric-a-brac smattered around. 

You’ll find kitchen equipment, books, busts, grandfather clocks, portraits and chandeliers. It made a lovely area to relax in for a spell. 

If the weather is warm, they also have an outdoor area with several tables near the old wintergarten. 

Charlottenburg Palace Cafe Kleine Orangerie
Kleine Orangerie Café
Konigin Cake Charlottenburg Palace
My Queen Luise cake

Opening hours and ticket prices

You can visit Charlottenburg Palace on Tuesdays – Sundays from 10 am – 5.30 pm. This switches to 4.30 pm in winter.

The gardens surrounding the palace are open from 8 am – dusk every day, all year.

You can buy single tickets to attractions. For example, the Altes Schloss and the New Wing are both €12 a ticket and the Mausoleum is €3 a ticket.

However, I would recommend purchasing the Charlottenburg+ ticket which gains you access to all the attractions for just €19. 

You can easily book these tickets online and you get a timed entry slot to the Altes Schloss to stop overcrowding.

Note: Schloss Charlottenburg is always closed on Mondays but the gardens are open every day of the week. 

Schloss Charlottenburg

How long do you need at Charlottenburg Palace?

This totally depends on what you’d like to do during your visit.

If you just wanted to explore the gardens, you could easily take the ‘grand tour’ in 1-2 hours. 

However, I’d say you need around half a day to a full day to explore Charlottenburg Palace if you want to visit all the attractions on offer. 

At a minimum, you would need 3 hours. However, you may find that this is still quite a rush!

I loved the fact that the palace grounds are so far away from the busy streets of Berlin. 

It was an oasis of nature and wildlife and so I ended up spending way more time here than I had originally planned. Don’t be surprised if you end up doing the same. 

Schloss Charlottenburg

My top tips for visiting Schloss Charlottenburg 

  • Wear comfy shoes – Schloss Charlottenburg is a huge estate with lots of walking required and a fair few cobbles. Wear comfy shoes. 
  • Download the Sanssouci app – this amazing app has detailed audio guides in all different languages for four of the Prussian palaces. It’s free to download and you don’t even need tickets to have a listen.
  • Photography is allowed – you’re allowed to take photos and videos inside and outside of the palace. Just don’t use flash inside, they are quite strict on this.
  • Go early – The park and palace can get busy, especially in warmer weather and on weekends. I’d go for opening time to avoid the crowds. 
Red Damask Chamber
Red Damask Chamber
Charlottenburg Palace Berlin
  • Book tickets online – You can buy tickets on the day but to save time, I’d book them online. You get a timed entry to the Altes Schloss but you can enter the other attractions like the New Wing or Mausoleum at any time during opening hours. 
  • Dogs – Dogs are allowed in the Schlossgarten but not in the palace unless it’s a guide dog.
  • Luggage/bags – You cannot store luggage here or bring backpacks inside the palace. Most people were asked to put their bags (even small handbags) in the free cloakroom.  
  • Refreshments – the Kleine Orangerie Café serves up light lunches, coffees and some tasty cakes in their restaurant that has a garden. But, I would pack some snacks and drinks too. 
Schloss Charlottenburg Berlin
I will never get over this spectacular Golden Gallery

Looking for other historic attractions in Berlin?

If you love history and beautiful buildings, then Berlin has them in abundance! Many are reconstructions but they are stunning all the same.

The obvious one is the iconic Brandenburg Gate. It was created in the 18th century on the location of a former city gate that marked the route from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel.

You can walk under it and looks incredible whether you visit day or night. If you wanted to capture it at its best then I would visit around sunrise to avoid the crowds. 

Just nearby you can visit the Reichstag Building, a government building and the seat of the German Bundestag. 

It’s a classical building but has a swirling glass dome on the top that you can book tickets to explore.

Click here to read my complete guide for visiting the Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate Berlin
Brandenburg Gate at sunrise

Take a walk through the Tiergarten to see highlights like the Charlottenburg Tor, Rosengarten, Teehaus im Englischen Garten, Bellevue Palace and the Victory Column. 

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) is also an absolutely stunning building. It’s surrounded by even more spectacular buildings on Museumisland and Babelplatz.

You can admire ornate architecture such as the Pergamonmuseum, Berliner Schloss, German Historical Museum, Berlin State Opera and Bode-Museum. 

If you love feeling like a princess in palaces and castles, you should take a day trip from Berlin to Potsdam. It’s just over 30 minutes by train!

Here, you can visit more fairytale Prussian residences like the Sanssouci Palace, Peacock Island, Glienicke Palace, Cecilienhof, New Palace and Pfingstberg. 

Berliner Dom Berlin Cathedral
Berliner Dom

Read more of my Germany travel guides

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How to visit the hidden gem Justizpalast Munich

The baroque hidden gem of Asamkirche

Discover Nymphenburg Palace in Munich

How to visit Wiblingen Abbey Library 

Is it worth going inside Neuschwanstein Castle

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in winter

Why you shouldn’t skip Hohenschwangau Castle 

Save Charlottenburg Palace Berlin for later! 

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