Brandenburger Tor (eng: Brandenburger Gate) is one of the most famous landmarks of Berlin and Germany. It is an 18th century neoclassical triumphal arch that was constructed in 1791. It was originally a sign of peace, commissioned by King Friedrick William II of Prussia, designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans. Brandenburger Tor took three years to finish.
During the wars of the 19th century, the Prussians was defeated by Napoleon’s forces in 1806. The Quadriga (the top ornament with an goddess in a chariot pulled by horses) was brought to Paris as a symbol of victory. However, when Napoleon was defeated in 1814 and Prussia occupied Paris, General Ernst von Pfuel made sure the Quadriga was brought back to Berlin. It was also redesigned: the goddess, Victoria, was equipped with the Prussian symbols of an eagle and an iron cross.
World War II
When the Nazis came to power in the 1930’s, they used a lot of existing symbols in their propaganda. The Brandenburger Tor and its Quadriga were no exceptions. During World War II and the heavy bombing of Berlin, Brandenburger Tor survived, but was damaged by bullets and bombs. One of the ornament’s horses head fell of and is now kept at the Märkisches Museum.
Brandenburger Tor is located in east Berlin. Thus, when the Berlin wall was rised in 1961, the Gate was not accessible for many people. This situation would last almost 30 years, during the cold war. December 22, 1989, the crossing at the Gate was reopened when the West German chancellor, Helmut Kohl walked through to be greeted by East Germany’s prime minister, Hans Modrow.
Brandenburger Tor today
When the Berlin wall fell and east- and west Berlin were joined together, the Brandenburger Tor got a new symbolic meaning: freedom and unity. During the years, the monument has been renovated and restored. Brandenburger Tor and its surrounding Pariser Platz is today a pedestrian area and a must visit when you plan your trip to Berlin. Who knows what symbolics this historic area will have in the future?