The Potsdam-Telegrafenberg Historical Site

On the Telegrafenberg, a 96 meter high elevation in Potsdam, the “Science Park Albert Einstein“, so named since 1992, hosts a conglomerate of major scientific institutions.

The original site was designed to be a science park in the style of an English garden landscape. Today, in addition to the AIP with its solar observatory Einstein Tower and the Great Refractor, the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and a branch of the Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI, institute for scientific marine research and research in the Arctic and Antarctic) are located on the site. The Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam (AOP), which is along with the Berlin observatory one of the predecessor institutions of the AIP, was the first research institute located at the science park and it was the first astronomical institute of the world having “astrophysics” in its name and as a research programme.

The buildings on the Telegrafenberg were constructed in the period of 1874 to 1899. In 1876, the main building of the AOP (today called “Michelson House”) was finished as the first building of the park, and in 1899, the Great Refractor was completed. Important personages like Karl Schwarzschild, since 1909 director of the AOP, and Albert Abraham Michelson, who performed a precursor experiment of the famous Michelson-Morley experiment in the basement of the Michelson building, worked and conducted research at the Telegrafenberg over the years. With the operation of the Einstein tower from 1924 onward, the era of modern solar research in Potsdam and Germany began. After more than 80 years in use, the Einstein Tower remains the largest solar telescope in Germany and solar physics remains a research focus of the AIP.


The name Telegrafenberg originates from an optical telegraph station (a six metre high antenna) which was installed there in 1832 as ordered by Friedrich Wilhelm III and formed part of the “Preußische Staatstelegrammlinie” encompassing 62 stations in between Berlin and Koblenz. With the adoption of electrical telegraphy, the line was shut down in 1852. Today a replica marks this line.

Among the historical stations at the Telegrafenberg, in particular the buildings of the AIP, namely the solar observatory Einsteintower and the historic Great Refractor, attract the public due to their unique historical tradition and architecture.