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The Brandenburg Gate
(Brandenburger Tor)

Built: 1788-1791
Designed by: Carl Gotthard von Langhans
Type: Monument
Location: Pariser Platz at Unter de Linden, Berlin, Germany
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T here is a lot of symbolic architecture around the world. From the pyramids in Egypt to the Empire State Building in New York. But the Brandenburg Gate is unique in that it has repeatedly become symbolic for different reasons for succeeding generations. Erected in the late 1700's by the Prussian authorities as the western gate of Berlin, it was the first neoclassical building in the city. It is modeled after the ceremonial entrance to the Acropolis ("Propylaea") in Athens, Greece. It is decorated with a number of reliefs, but the most notable artwork is the Quadriga on top. It is a statue of the goddess of Peace, Eirene, a winged woman driving a chariot drawn by four horses. This symbol of peace changed after the German victory over France in 1814 when the woman became Victoria, the goddess of Victory by adding a Prussian eagle on an iron cross to her ensemble. The gate went from being a symbol of victory to a symbol of the Third Reich when the Nazis reached power. It became the starting point for parades down the Straße unter den Linden. The Gate was seriously damaged during the Second World War and was restored in the 1950's. East Berlin restored the gate, while West Berlin recast the Quadriga from its original molds. It was 13 August, 1961 when the Gate would again change symbolism for another generation. It was on that night that East German soldiers closed off their half of the city and started building the Berlin Wall at this point. The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) removed the Prussian eagle and cross from the Quadriga.

In 1989 the Brandenburg Gate became a symbol of hope to a new generation. They tore down the Berlin wall and most of the frontier between East and West Germany evaporated -- seemingly overnight. In their enthusiasm, they damaged the gate and its statue on New Year's Eve 1989. It has since been restored, complete with its Prussian eagle and cross, and now serves as a symbol of a united Germany moving forward in unity economically, socially, and spiritually.

  • When it was first built, only the German Emperor and his guests were allowed to use the central passageway. All others had to use the side passages.
  • The Brandenburg Gate sways about one centimeter because of the passing of trucks, subway trains, and cars blaring loud music.

  • 1806: Napoleon steals the The Quadriga. It was exhibited at the Louvre museum, and eventually put on top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
  • 1814: The Quadriga is recaptured and brought back to Berlin.
  • 1963: U.S. President John F. Kennedy visits the Brandenburg Gate. The Soviets hang large banners across it so he cannot see the other side.
  • 22 June, 1990: Checkpoint Charlie was dismantled. Parts of it are now in the Allied Museum. The East German watchtower remains.
  • 19 October, 1998: The Brandenburg Gate was damaged during the making of a film. A car that was supposed to speed through the gate hit one of its pillars breaking off a large chunk of stone.
  • 21 December, 2000: Work begins to once again refurbish the Brandenburg Gate. This time using lasers to clean grit, and replacing more than 1,000 pieces of stone. Estimated cost: US$3,000,000.00 in private funding.

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a. eaton
February 24th, 2003 @ 12:11pm
The Brandenburg Gate was named for my ancestor, the Margrave of Brandenburg. My great grandfather's surname was Brandenburg. Cool to see it on the web! Thanks.


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