Dampfmaschinenhaus (The Royal Pumphouse) – Potsdam, Germany - Atlas Obscura

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Dampfmaschinenhaus (The Royal Pumphouse)

Designed to resemble foreign architecture, this mosque-looking structure was used to pump water to a royal fountain.  


While walking through the center of Potsdam towards the royal Prussian palaces, visitors will come across what seems like a mosque but is in fact a pumphouse. 

This pumphouse, which was built between 1841 and 1843, had the singular task of moving water up into a reservoir in order to power a fountain in front of the main palace. While this may sound like a simple task today, this was a technical marvel at the time. 

The 82 horsepower (60 kilowatts) steam engines, the most powerful engines in the country at the time, required a staggering four tons of coal daily to remain in operation. The fountain reached a height of nearly 131 feet (40 meters)— a technological marvel at the time.

The house was built as a mosque simply because the king asked for it. Foreign architecture was all the rage during the period, and the mosque was visible from the palace at the time. 

These days, the fountain works with modern pumps that are much more efficient, but the pump house fortunately remained. In 1992, it was renovated and electrified, which allows for demonstrations of the old machinery without the need for coal burning. 

Know Before You Go

The pumphouse is open every first Saturday of the month as well as on special occasions. Check the website for admission prices and opening times.

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September 21, 2022

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