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Home Towns - Potsdam, Germany

Russian Colony

This site is part of our Potsdam, Germany site. Click the left turn sign to get back to the Potsdam Start Site.

"As a lasting memorial to the bonds of friendship between Us and the Honorable and Blessed Majesty Alexander, Tsar of Russia, it is our intention to build a colony, occupied by His Majesty's Russian Singers and named Alexandrovka."

Prussian King Frederick William III, April 10, 1826

In 1812, the Prussian army (then forced to fight with Napoleon) captured 1,000 Russian troops. From these men, King Frederick William III decided to form a Russian choir. When Russia and Prussia later joined forces, the choir remained in Potsdam, sanctioned by Tsar Alexander I as a sign of the renewed friendship between the two countries.

When the Tsar died in 1825, Friedrich Wilhelm decided to pay tribute by building a village for the 12 remaining members of the choir. The colony was designed by famous Prussian landscaper Peter Joseph Lenné and Russian architect Vasily Stasov. It was modeled after the Russian village of Glosovo near St. Petersburg. Each house was built in Russian style, fully furnished and came with a large garden and a cow.
The last of the original inhabitants died in 1861. Today, most of the houses found new private owners and most of them have been beautifully restored. Only one of the families living here today can trace its roots back to one of the twelve Russians who made Potsdam their home 180 years ago.
Above are the pictures we took in 2007. Since there is a lot more to see, we borrowed a couple more pictures (see below).
In addition, Potsdam University too has a good collection of pictures.
You can also check out Wikipedia (in German language only) or the English language homepage of the settlement.

XXXXXAlexander Nevsky Church

The 13 houses of the colony were finished in 1827. In honor of the inhabitant's religion, the King decided to add a Russian Orthodox Church to the settlement. In honor of his friend, the late Alexander I, the church was named after the Tsar's patron saint, Alexander Nevsky.

The church was designed by Russian architect Vasily P. Stasov, who used it as a scale model for one of his largest projects, the Church of the Tithes in Kiev. The interior was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

The church has been in service continuously since its dedication in 1829 and is today the oldest existing Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe.

A Whole Town Getting a Face-Lift
Alexandrovka is not the only part of Potsdam that has been reconstructed recently. During 40 years of communist rule, many of Potsdam's antique buildings rotted away. Communist authorities had neither the means nor an interest to renovate Potsdam's "bourgeois" past. After German Reunification, there was boom of reconstruction that was still continuing while we visited Potsdam in 2007. On our way to the Russian Colony, we noticed these mansions. They are a great example of how the town used to look like and how it will look again once restoration is done.

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