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Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburger Tor

Brandenburg Gate from Pariser Platz
The Brandenburg Gate
One of Berlin's most famous sights, the Brandenburg Gate is located on the western edge of Pariser Platz just inside the former East Berlin. Rising up from behind the Berlin Wall, it was a potent symbol of Berlin's division. From the construction of the Wall in 1961 up until 1989 the Brandenburg Gate was inaccessible to the general public.

Architecture

The Brandenburg Gate gate is 26m (65 ft) high, 65.5 m (213 ft) wide and 11 m (36 ft) thick. Based on the Propylea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, the Brandenburg Gate was the first Greek revival neo-classical structure in Berlin. It consists of twelve Doric columns, six on each side creating five portals. The Quadriga, a statue consisting of the goddess of peace, driving a four-horse triumphal chariot is mounted above the gate, which is flanked by two smaller buildings in similar style which served as gatehouses.


History

Brandenburg Gate in 1764
The Brandenburg Gate in 1764
The first Brandenburg Gate (pictured right) was built in 1734, when a permimeter wall was constructed around the edge of the city. This wall, called the "Zoll- und Akzisemauer" ("Customs and Excise Wall") was not for defensive purposes but for controlling the flow of people and goods to and from the city. As well as the Brandenburg Gate, 17 other gates were built, none of which have survived to the present day, alhtough many have lent their names to the area or the street crossings where they once stood.

 

The current Brandenburg Gate was constructed between 1788 and 1791 as part of a programme of building works to improve the wall and many of its gates. The Brandenburg Gate was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans in the classicist style; in 1793 it was complemented by the Quadriga, the triumphal statue of the winged goddess of peace driving a four-horse chariot.

Quadriga on the Brandenburg Gate
The Quadriga
In 1806 the Quadriga was stolen by Napoleon following the occupation of Berlin by the French army and it was removed to Paris. It was returned to Berlin in 1814 following Napoleon's fall from power, and the statue's olive wreath was exchanged for an Iron Cross.

The Brandenburg Gate in 1945
War damage in 1945
Until his abdication following the First World War, the middlemost of the five portals was reserved for the exclusive use of the Kaiser. The other four were open to general traffic, including motorised traffic.

Brandenburg Gate
Evening at the Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate was used extensively by the Nazis for propaganda purposes, beginning with a torchlit parade by the SA following their acquisition of power in 1933. The Gate was heavily damaged during the Second World War and partially destroyed during the final battle for Berlin. The Quadriga suffered particularly, and of the original only one horse's ear remains; this is now exhibited in the Märkisches Museum.

Following the Second World War the Brandenburg Gate found itself just inside the Soviet sector, putting it under control of the East Berlin government. Between 1956 and 1957 the Gate was restored in an act of cooperation between both halves of the divided city. The Quadriga was also reproduced using the original forms, although East Berlin insisted on the removal of the Iron Cross and Eagle as symbols of militarism.

Access

S-Bahn/U-Bahn station Brandenburger Tor has exits on the opposite side of Pariser Platz. Buses 100 and 200 pass nearby.

Link: visitBerlin.de - Brandenburg Gate

Platz des 18. März (0.0 km), Pariser Platz (0.1 km), The Kennedys (0.2 km), French Embassy in Berlin (0.2 km), Hotel Adlon (0.2 km), Brandenburger Tor (Station) (0.2 km), The British Embassy in Berlin (0.3 km), Holocaust Memorial (0.3 km), Hungarian Embassy (0.3 km)