Brandenburg is the region all around Berlin, but the difference between the fast paced capital and the quiet countryside could not be bigger. Around the size of Belgium it stretches between the Elbe and Oder rivers and from the lakes around Rheinsberg in the north to the lakes in the south around Cottbus. The State of Brandenburg covers an area of 29,056sqkm (11,218 sq miles). Apart from pine and fir forests this region mostly consists of sandy plain. There are 3000 rivers and lakes in this area – the Havel and the Spree rivers flow through it as well. With only 2.53 million people the state is sparsely populated.
With 500 hectares of parks and 150 buildings constructed between 1730 and 1916, the complex of palaces and parks of Potsdam form a unique whole which lines the banks of the Havel and the Glienicke Lakes. Voltaire stayed in the Sanssouci Palace, built under Frederick II between 1745 and 1757. Other monuments in this state are the St. Jacob’s Chapel in Perleberg and St. Katherine’s Church in Brandenburg an der Havel, both dating from the fourteenth century. In Brandenburg a.d.H. there is also a Romanesque cathedral which had its foundation laid in the twelfth century, and was rebuilt in the fourteenth century in the Gothic style. This cathedral was extensively restored in the 1960s.