The Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's most famous landmark and a must-see for all visitors. A symbol of German division during the Cold War, it is now a national symbol of peace and unity.
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin's most important monuments, a landmark and symbol with over two hundred years of history. Hardly any other sight is on so many tourist selfies as the great sandstone gate in the heart of the city. The Brandenburg Gate used to be memorial of division - after the construction of the Berlin Wall, it was located in the restricted area and could not be visited by East or West Germans. After the fall of the Wall, the gate became a symbol of German unity.
Berlin owes the Brandenburg Gate to King Frederick William II, who had commissioned the large sandstone gate as a dignified conclusion of the magnificent boulevard Unter den Linden. The gate is widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings of classicism. It was built between 1788 and 1791 based on designs by Carl Gotthard Langhans the Elder, who was strongly inspired by the Propylaea of the Athenian Acropolis. Two years after the Brandenburg Gate was completed, the so-called Quadriga - a chariot pulled by four horse - was placed on the roof of the gate.
The Quadriga on Top of the Brandenburg Gate
The Quadriga was placed on top of the Brandenburg Gate by Johann Gottfried Schadow in 1793. The sculpture, depicting a two-wheeled chariot pulled by four horses running side by side, was meant to symbolize peace entering the city. The horses' reins are held by Victoria, the goddess of victory. Over the course of time, the sculpture was taken down from the Brandenburg Gate a total of three times. After the defeat of Prussia in 1806, Napoleon took the Quadriga to Paris. However, the victory of the Alliance allowed it to be brought back and put back in its old place eight years later. During the Second World War, the Brandenburg Gate and the Quadriga were severely damaged by bombing. The sculpture therefore had to be disposed of in 1956 in the course of the reconstruction of the gate and replaced by a copy.
Berlin's Symbol of Unity
The Brandenburg Gate acquired special symbolic power during the time when Berlin was divided. With the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, the monument led a lonely existence because it was henceforth in the restricted area and could be visited neither by East Berliners nor by people from the West. With the fall of the Wall in 1989, the Brandenburg Gate became a symbol of reunification. On December 22, 1989, the gate was opened to the cheers of more than 100,000 people. However, the Quadriga was so badly damaged by the reunification celebrations that it had to be restored two years later.
Restoration of the Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is located right in the center of the city, so damage to the substance of the sandstone is inevitable. The annual New Year's Eve fireworks over the gate also caused lasting damage to the structure. Therefore, after a restoration phase of almost two years, the Brandenburg Gate was ceremoniously unveiled again on October 3, 2002. Since then it has once again become a magnet for tourists from all over the world.
Around the Brandenburg Gate: Pariser Platz
The Brandenburg Gate is located in the center of Berlin on Pariser Platz ("Parisian Square"), one of the most beautiful squares in the city. The magnificent boulevard Unter den Linden leads directly to the square, which is lined with numerous noteworthy buildings such as the luxury hotel Adlon Kempinski, the University of the Arts, and the US Embassy. The surrounding cafés and restaurants invite visitors to stay a while and take in the special atmosphere.
Pariser Platz 1
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The Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island and more: A trip to Berlin wouldn't be complete without visiting these attractions and sights.
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Last edited: 3 November 2022