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Glienicke Bridge

Famous as the site of many Soviet/ American spy exchanges throughout the cold war

TravelCurious Tip

These days, the Glienicke Bridge is the easiest way to reach Potsdam by road.

At first glance, Glienicke Bridge doesn’t seem like anything special. Simply designed, constructed of steel and little over 100 years old, it would be easy to pass over it without a second thought. And yet this bridge has been the subject of countless stories, books, and a 2015 Steven Spielberg film starring Tom Hanks. It is more commonly known as the Bridge of Spies.


Although there has been a crossing here of one sort or another since 1660, it was not until 1907 that the current bridge was installed. After being severely damaged by an unexploded shell in 1945, the bridge underwent a full renovation and was not completed until after the division of Germany into East and West. The significance of this change for the bridge would not become clear for several years.


Trading Lives

It was during the Cold War that Glienicke Bridge was thrust into the international spotlight. This portion of the Havel river formed the border between East and West Germany, and became an iconic location where captured secret agents and spies from both sides would be exchanged. It began in February 1962, when the American pilot Francis Gary Powers and the KGB spy Rudolf Ivanevich Abel were traded. This was one of very few places in the world where the Americans came face-to-face with the Russians, a political powder keg that became the source of enormous international strain. A total of 35 more agents were exchanged during the Cold War, thus permanently cementing Glienicke’s place in history.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Berlin
Babelsberg Palace
Summer home of the First German Emperor, constructed in English Gothic revival in 1835
Schloss Cecilienhof Palace
The location of the Potsdam conference. Where Churchill, Truman and Stalin partitioned post-war Europe in 1945
Alexandrowka
An old Russian colony, created in 1826-27 upon the request of Frederick Wilhelm III
Stasi Prison
A former East German prison, which cruelly remanded political prisoners secretly for decades
Dutch Quarter
A neighbourhood of 169 beautifully preserved red Dutch brick houses, built from 1733 to 1740
Potsdam
It is now one of the most-visited cities in Germany, home to magnificent palaces and elegant gardens.

Related Tours

Day Trip to Potsdam with Private Transport, Tickets, and Guide
Spend a glorious and peaceful day wandering the UNESCO World Heritage site of Potsdam, home of the Prussian Kings, on this private day trip with your guide, private transport and tickets to the magnificent Sanssouci Palace and picture gallery included. On this tour you will: 

  • Enjoy the personalized attention of your expert private guide and the ease of having your private transport for the day. 
  • Discover the opulent land of palaces, manicured gardens and lakes that is Potsdam, one of the most splendid royal cities of Europe and once the home of the Prussian kings. 
  • Visit the magnificent Sanssouci Palace, the summer home of King Frederick the Great and now Germany's largest World Heritage Site.
  • Tour the picture gallery to see some of the most famous works of Europe’s greatest masters such as Caravaggio, Rubens and van Dyck among others.
  • Stroll through some of the Palace's beautiful gardens and parklands.  
  • Enjoy the pomp and splendour of the Orangery Palace, the New Palace and the Cecilienhof Palace (among others) from the outside.
  • Walk along the Glienicke Bridge where the historical exchange of spies took place in 1962 until the 1980s.
  • Visit the charming city of Potsdam and its picturesque Dutch Quarter.
  • Learn about the rich history of the city, from the Prussian Kings to the Cold War spies from your private guide. 

Less than an hour from Berlin by car, Potsdam is one of Europe’s most magnificent royal cities. Created by the Prussian Kings to rival the Baroque opulence of Versailles, the palaces and parks of Potsdam are spread over 500 hectares and include over 150 buildings dating from 1730 to 1916. It was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1990 and provides a peaceful and beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of Berlin. 

Throughout the day, your guide will tell you the plethora of stories of the people behind the pomp and splendour of the buildings. The life of Frederick the Great who was a keen patron of the arts and the Enlightenment and commissioned the Sanssouci Palace to be his summer palace, where you will have VIP access. Your guide will meet you after the audio-guided tour and walk with you through the Sansoucci gardens past the lovely Chinese Tea Room to the New Palace which you'll explore from the outside. Then it's time for lunch (not included in the tour) and your guide will be only too happy to help with recommendations. 

After a lunch break, you’ll spend the afternoon visiting the Cecilienhof palace (from the outside) and wander around the charming Dutch quarter – with its laid back ambience, courtyards and cafes, bars and galleries. Your guide will also show you the Alter Markt, Neuer Markt, St. Nikolai Church, City Palace and The Brandenburg Gate so you'll really have covered everything! Before you head back to Berlin, you may also spy on the odd actor as Potsdam was named UNESCO creative city of Film in 2019! 
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