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The Brandenburg Gate

Napoleon, Kennedy, the Fall of the Wall - The Brandenburg Gate Has Seen it All

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Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), Berlin
Bjorn Holland/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) in Berlin is one of the first landmarks that comes to mind when thinking of Germany. The Brandenburg Gate is the national symbol of the country, and German history was made here – many different times.

Mr. Gorbachev, Open this Gate!

The Brandenburg Gate became infamous in the Cold War, when it was the sad symbol for the division of Berlin and Germany: The Gate stood between East and West Germany, becoming part of the impenetrable Berlin Wall. It was here, where Ronald Reagan said his moving words:

"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!"

In 1989, a peaceful revolution ended the Cold War: The Berlin Wall fell, and East and West Germany were reunited when the Brandenburg Gate opened, becoming the symbol of a new Germany.

The Architecture of the Brandenburg Gate

Commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm, the Brandenburg Gate was designed by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans in 1791. It was the grand entrance to the boulevard "Unter den Linden", which led to the palace of the Prussian monarchs.

The design of the Brandenburg Gate was inspired by the Acropolis in Athens. The monument is crowned with the sculpture of the Quadriga, a four-horsed chariot driven by Victoria, the winged goddess of victory.

The Brandenburg Gate - From Napoleon to Kennedy

In the course of German history, the Brandenburg Gate played many different roles; it reflects the country's turbulent past and its peaceful achievements like no other landmark in Germany.

In the Napoleonic Wars in 1806, after the French forces defeated the Prussian army, Napoleon's troops took the sculpture of the Quadriga to Paris as a war trophy.
The Prussian army reclaimed it in 1814 with their victory over the French.

More than a hundred years later, the Nazis would use the Brandenburg Gate for their own means. In 1933, they marched through the gate in a martial torchlight parade, celebrating Hitler's rise to power and introducing the darkest chapter of German history.

The Brandenburg Gate survived World War II with serious damages; in the Cold War, squeezed between East and West Germany, it became the site for ideologic disputes.
When John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate in 1963, the Soviets hung large red banners across the gate to prevent him from looking into the East.

Brandenburg Gate - Visitor's Information

After the peaceful reunification of Germany, the Brandenburg Gate was refurbished in 2000; today, it is one of the most visited landmarks in Germany and in Europe.

Address: Pariser Platz 1 10117 Berlin
Getting There: Metro Stop „Unter den Linden“ (S1, S2) , or Bus #100
Cost: Free

The Brandenburg Gate is part of the Berlin Walking Tour
See the 10 Best Free Things in Berlin.

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