Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate ( _de. Brandenburger Tor) is a former city gate and one of the main symbols of Berlin and Germany. It is located west of the city center at the intersection of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which one formerly entered Berlin. One block to its north lies the Reichstag. The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace and built by Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. Today, it is considered one of Europe's most famous landmarks.

Design and history

The Brandenburg Gate consists of twelve Doric columns, six to each side, forming five passageways. Citizens originally were allowed to use only the outermost two. On top of the gate is the Quadriga, the chariot drawn by four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory. As in 1793, when it was originally installed, the Quadriga faces east.

The Gate's design is based upon the Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece and is consistent with Berlin's history of architectural classicism (first, Baroque, and then neo-Palladian). The Gate was the first "Athens on the River Spree" by architect Karl Gotthard von Langhans. The capital Quadriga was sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow.

The Brandenburg Gate's design has remained essentially unchanged since its completion even as it has played different political roles in German history. After the 1806 Prussian defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, Napoleon took the Quadriga to Paris. After Napoleon's defeat in 1814 and the Prussian occupation of Paris by General Ernst von Pfuel, the Quadriga was restored to Berlin and Viktoria's wreath of oak leaves was supplemented with a new symbol of Prussian power, the Iron Cross.

When the Nazis ascended to power they used the Gate as their symbol. The Gate survived World War II and was one of the few structures standing in the Pariser Platz ruins in 1945 (another being the Academy of Fine Arts). Following Germany's surrender and the end of the second world war, the governments of East Berlin and West Berlin restored it in a joint effort. Vehicles and pedestrians could again travel freely through the gate, until August 1961 when the Berlin Wall was erected. The wall and its fortified "death strip" ran just west of the gate, cutting off access from West Berlin and essentially rendering it off limits to East Berliners until the wall's destruction in 1989.

On December 21, 2000, the Brandenburg Gate was privately refurbished at a 6 million dollar cost.

The Brandenburg Gate is now again closed for vehicle traffic, and much of Pariser Platz has been turned into a cobblestone pedestrian zone.

Political History at the Gate

In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate. The Soviets hung large banners across it to prevent him looking into the East. In the 1980s, decrying the existence of two German states, West Berlin mayor Richard von Weizsäcker said: " 'The German question will remain open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed' ". []

On June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan spoke to the West Berlin populace at the Brandenburg Gate, demanding the razing of the Berlin Wall. Addressing CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan said, "cquote|General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

When the Revolutions of 1989 occurred and the Berlin Wall collapsed, the Gate symbolized freedom and the desire to unify the City of Berlin. On the 22nd of December 1989, the Brandenburg Gate re-opened when Helmut Kohl, the West German Chancellor, walked through to be greeted by Hans Modrow, the East German Prime Minister.

On July 12, 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke at the Gate about peace in post-Cold War Europe.


* [ Street map of the Brandenburg Gate's location] (GlobalGuide)

Historical photographs

ee also

* Berlin Wall

External links

* [ Brandenburg Gate described in its historic context.]
* [ Panorama Brandenburg Gate] - Panoramic view from the Pariser Platz
* [ Webcam: Live-View of the Street "Unter den Linden" with Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany]
* [ Ronald Reagan's "Tear this Wall" speech]
* [ Complete text, audio and video of Ronald Reagan's Brandenburg Gate Address] from
* [ Bill Clinton's "Berlin is free" speech]
* [ Video News report of the Brandenburg Gate re-opening] - Real Player needed
* [ Germany, Berlin, Brandenburger Tor] Virtual tour with map and compass effect by Tolomeus
* [ Panorama Brandenburg Gate 1945] - Panoramic view into the past, 60 years after WWII

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