Today, there are three public colleges, the University of Potsdam, and more than 30 research institutes in the city.
The area was formed from a series of large moraines left after the last glacial period.
The buildings of the royal residences were built mainly during the reign of Frederick the Great.
One of these is the Sanssouci Palace (French: "without cares", by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, 1744), famed for its formal gardens and Rococo interiors.
In 1815, at the formation of the Province of Brandenburg, Potsdam became the provincial capital until 1918, however, interrupted and succeeded by Berlin as provincial capital between 18, and after 1918.A continuous Hohenzollern possession since 1415, Potsdam became prominent, when it was chosen in 1660 as the hunting residence of Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg, the core of the powerful state that later became the Kingdom of Prussia. After the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Potsdam became a centre of European immigration.Its religious freedom attracted people from France (Huguenots), Russia, the Netherlands and Bohemia.The Potsdam Conference in 1945 was held at the palace Cecilienhof.Babelsberg, in the south-eastern part of Potsdam, was a major film production studio before the 1930s and has enjoyed success as a major center of European film production since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
After the great migrations of the Germanic peoples, Slavs moved in and Potsdam was probably founded after the 7th century as a settlement of the Hevelli tribe centred on a castle. In 1573, it was still a small market town of 2,000 inhabitants.It was first mentioned in a document in 993 AD as Poztupimi, when Emperor Otto III gifted the territory to the Quedlinburg Abbey, then led by his aunt Matilda. Potsdam lost nearly half of its population due to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648).The Filmstudio Babelsberg is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world.Potsdam developed into a centre of science in Germany in the 19th century.Its planning embodied ideas of The Age of Enlightenment: through a careful balance of architecture and landscape Potsdam was intended as "a picturesque, pastoral dream" which reminded its residents of their relationship with nature and reason.
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Around the city there are a series of interconnected lakes and cultural landmarks, in particular the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, the largest World Heritage Site in Germany.
The highest point is the 114-metre (374 ft) high Kleiner Ravensberg.
Potsdam is divided into seven historic city districts and nine new Ortsteile (villages), which joined the city in 2003.
Towards the north west the governorate was bounded by the rivers Elbe and the Havel, and on the north east by the Oder.
The south eastern boundary was to the neighbouring governorate of Frankfurt (Oder).