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Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate (German: Brandenburger Tor) is a landmark gate, the symbol of Berlin, Germany. Located on the Pariser Platz, it is the only remaining one of the series of gates through which one entered Berlin. It constitutes the monumental termination of Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees which led directly to the royal residence. It was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II as a sign of peace and built by Karl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791.

Brandenburg Gate (June 2003), Brandenbrug Gate at sunset (August 2003) ()

Brandenburg Gate consists of twelve Greek Doric columns, six on each side. This allows for five roadways, although originally ordinary citizens were only allowed to use the outer two. Above the gate is the Quadriga, consisting of the goddess of peace, driving a four-horse chariot in triumph.

Design of the gate was based on the Propylea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. In a city with a long tradition of classicism, a classicist Baroque followed by neo-Palladian architecture, this was the first Greek revival neo-classical construction in Berlin, which would become the Spreeathen ("Athens on the River Spree') by the 1830s, shaped by the severe neoclassicism of architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

The Quadriga atop the Brandenbrug Gate (August 2003) ()

While the main design of the Brandenburg Gate has remained the same since it was completed, the gate has played varying roles in Germany's history. First, Napoleon took the Quadriga back to Paris in 1806 after conquering Berlin. When it returned to Berlin in 1814, the statue exchanged her olive wreath for the Iron Cross and became the goddess of victory. When the Nazis rose to power, they used the gate to symbolize their power. The only structure left standing in the ruins of Pariser Platz in 1945, apart from the ruined Academy of Fine Arts, the gate was restored by the East and West Berlin Governments. However, in 1961, the gate was closed off as part of the Berlin Wall. "The German issue will remain open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed" was how the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Richard von Weizsäcker, described the situation in the early 1980s.

Finally, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the gate symbolized freedom and the unity of the city.

The Brandenburg Gate appears on the 'tail' side of the 50, 20 and 10 cent German euro coins.

See also: Brandenburg

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