One of the grandest reminders of Berlin’s Prussian past, Schloss Charlottenburg was inaugurated as a summer retreat for Sophie Charlotte, wife of King Friedrich I, in 1699 and expanded to its present form in 1790. As with so many other Berlin historical sites, what you’ll visit is mostly a reconstruction following the palace’s near-complete destruction in World War II, but you’ll see some of the original furniture and wall décor, as well as a number of magnificent Baroque-era paintings. An exhaustive audio guide helps you explore the former living quarters of Friedrich I and Sophie Charlotte, their porcelain cabinet (replenished floor-to-ceiling with a stunning new collection), and the royal chapel. As of 2014, you can also visit the restored New Wing, commissioned by Friedrich II (aka Friedrich the Great) as an ornately rococo precursor to Sanssouci Palace. In the sprawling gardens behind the palace, you can check out the charming Neuer Pavillon, an Italianate summer house designed in 1825 by star architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (not to be confused with the Schinkel Pavillon, an art gallery in Mitte) or see more 1700s-era Berlin porcelain at the former royal teahouse Schloss Belvedere. If you’re already going to Sanssouci and you’re not a Hohenzollern groupie, you may want to skip the palace tour, but the grounds are free to visit and worth a wander no matter what.
Outside the Schloss
Across from the palace on Schlossstrasse, a set of former guard barracks now house a trio of specialist museums well worth stopping in. The Berggruen (10€; www.smb.museum) is a treasure trove for fans of Klee and especially late-period Picasso. The Bröhan (8€; www.broehan-museum.de) specializes in Art Nouveau and Art Deco. If surrealism is your thing, head for the Scharf-Gesternberg collection (10€; www.smb.museum).