Temple of Friendship

The Temple of Friendship (German: Freundschaftstempel) is a small, round temple in the western part of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. It was built by the Prussian king Frederick II in memory of his favorite sister, Markgravine Wilhelmine of Bayreuth, who died in 1758. The temple was built south of the park's main boulevard between 1768 and 1770 by architect Carl von Gontard, complementing the Temple of Antiquities, which lies due north of the boulevard on an axis with the Temple of Friendship.


The First Pavilion in Neuruppin

A notable precursor of the Temple of Friendship was the even smaller Temple of Apollo in the Amalthea Garden. The first work of architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Temple of Apollo was built in 1735 in the flower and vegetable garden created by Crown Prince Frederick (later Frederick II) in the town Neuruppin in Brandenburg, where he resided from 1732 to 1735 as the commander of a regiment stationed there.


The Temple of Apollo was an open, round temple, although in 1791 it was enclosed by brick walls between its columns. In August 1735, Fredrick wrote to his sister Wilhelmine, who at that time was already married and living in Bayreuth: ..."The garden house is a temple of eight doric columns holding up a domed roof. On it stands a statue of Apollo. As soon as it is finished, we shall offer sacrifices in it - naturally to you, dear sister, protectress of the fine arts."


The Pavilion in Sanssouci Park

To honor the memory of Wilhelmine, Frederick chose, as he had in Neuruppin, the form of an open, round temple with a shallow domed roof supported by eight corinthian columns. This architectural structure, the monopteros type, has its origins in ancient Greece, where such buildings were erected over cult statues and tombstones.


In a shallow alcove at the back wall of the temple is a life-sized statue of Wilhelmine of Bayreuth, holding a book in her hand. The marble figure is from the workshop of the sculptor brothers Johann David and Johann Lorenz Whilhem Räntz and is based on a portrait by the court painter Antoine Pesne. The medallions on the columns depicting pairs of friends in classical antiquity as well as the book in Wilhelmine's hand point to her fascination with that era. Moreover, the homoerotic dimension of the classical couples may have made them especially appealing to the temple's builder, Frederick II, whose possible homosexual proclivities were the subject of much speculation and rumor.


Pairs of friends:


  • Pylades & Orestes

  • Euryalus & Nisos

  • Heracles & Philoctetes

  • Pirithous & Theseus