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The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate ( ) is a former city gate and one of the main symbols of Berlinmarker and Germanymarker. It is located west of the city center at the intersection of Unter den Lindenmarker and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platzmarker. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which one formerly entered Berlin. One block to the north stands the Reichstag buildingmarker. The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Lindenmarker, the renowned boulevard of linden trees which formerly led directly to the city palacemarker of the Prussian monarchs. It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace and built by Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. The Brandenburg Gate was restored from 2000 to 2002 by the Stiftung Denkmalschutz Berlin (Berlin Monument Conservation Foundation). Today, it is considered one of Europe's most famous landmarks.

Design and history


The Brandenburg Gate consists of twelve Doric columns, six to each side, forming five passageways.Citizens originally were allowed to use only the outermost two. Atop the gate is the Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.

The Gate's design is based upon the Propylaeamarker, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athensmarker, Greecemarker and is consistent with Berlin's history of architectural classicism (first, Baroque, and then neo-Palladian). The Gate was the first "Athens on the River Spree" by architect Carl Gotthard von Langhans. The capital Quadriga was sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow.

The Brandenburg Gate's design has remained essentially unchanged since its completion even as it has played different political roles in German history. After the 1806 Prussian defeat at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, Napoleon took the Quadriga to Parismarker.
Napoleon's defeat in 1814 and the Prussian occupation of Paris by General Ernst von Pfuel, the Quadriga was restored to Berlin and Victoria's wreath of oak leaves was supplemented with a new symbol of Prussian power, the Iron Cross. The Quadriga faces east, as it did when it was originally installed in 1793. At that time, only the royal family was allowed to pass through the central archway, as well as members of the Pfuel family from 1814 to 1919. In addition, the central archway was also used by the coaches of Ambassadors on the single occasion of their presenting their letters of credence to the monarch.

When the Nazis ascended to power they used the Gate as a party symbol. The Gate survived World War II and was one of the few structures standing in the Pariser Platz ruins in 1945 (another being the Academy of Fine Arts). The gate was badly damaged with holes in the columns from bullets and nearby explosions. Following Germany's surrender and the end of the war, the governments of East Berlin and West Berlin restored it in a joint effort. The holes were patched, and were visible for many years following the war.

In 1990, the Quadriga was removed from the gate as part of renovation work carried out by the East German authorities.

On December 21, 2000, the Brandenburg Gate was privately refurbished at a cost of six million dollars (U.S.).

On October 3, 2002, the twelfth anniversary of German Reunification, the Brandenburg Gate was once again reopened following extensive refurbishment.

The Brandenburg Gate is now again closed for vehicle traffic, and much of Pariser Platz has been turned into a cobblestone pedestrian zone.

A Soviet flag flew from a flagpole atop the gate from 1945 until 1957, when it was replaced by an East German flag. Since the reunification of Germany, the flag and the pole have been removed.

Berlin Wall and its fall

Newly-opened Brandenburg Gate crossing on two sides of the gate.
Passport stamp for the newly-opened crossing.
Vehicles and pedestrians could travel freely through the gate until August 1961 when the Berlin Wallmarker was erected. The wall and its fortified death strip ran just west of the gate, cutting off access from West Berlin and the "baby Wall" on the Eastern side rendered it off limits to East Berliners as well, until the wall's demolition in 1989.

When the Revolutions of 1989 occurred and the Berlin Wallmarker fell, the Gate symbolized freedom and the desire to unify the city of Berlin. Thousands of people gathered at the Wall here to celebrate the fall of the Wall on 9 November 1989 until the opening of a new crossing on 22 December 1989.

On December 22, 1989, the Brandenburg Gate crossing was opened when Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor, walked through to be greeted by Hans Modrow, the East German prime minister. Demolition of the rest of the Wall around the area took place the following year.

Political history at the gate

In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate. The Soviets hung large red banners across it to prevent him looking into the East. In the 1980s, decrying the existence of two German states, West Berlin mayor Richard von Weizsäcker said: 'The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed.'

On June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan spoke to the West Berlin populace at the Brandenburg Gate, demanding the razing of the Berlin Wallmarker. Addressing CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan said,

On July 12, 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke at the Gate about peace in post-Cold War Europe.

On November 9, 2009, Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, walked through Brandenburg Gate with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev and Poland's Lech Walesa as part of the 20-year celebration of tearing down the Berlin Wall.


Brandenburg Gate then and now

Image:Charles Meynier - Napoleon in Berlin.png|Napoleon in Berlin.Image:SedanBrandenburgerTor.jpg|After the 1870 Battle of Sedanmarker. In English, the sign reads "What a change through God's guidance"Image:Brandenburger tor 1871.jpg|The Brandenburg Gate in 1871Image:2005-10-26 Brandenburger-Tor.JPG|The Gate and surroundings in 2005Image:Brandenburger Tor DRI filtered.jpg|Brandenburg Gate, May 2008Image:Brandenburg Gate Quadriga at Night.jpg|The Quadriga atop the Brandenburg|The Brandenburg Gate appears on the obverse of the 50, 20 and 10 cent German euro coins

The Berlin Wall goes up

File:Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-047269, Berlin, Brandenburger Tor.jpg| Sign warning people they were about to leave West Berlin in 1959 before the wall's constructionFile:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-85417-0003, Berlin, Mauerbau, Brandenburger Tor.jpg|Checks being done by East German guards on those crossing the border from West Berlin to the East just before the construction of the Wall in 1961.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 173-1282, Berlin, Brandenburger Tor, Wasserwerfer.jpg|East Germans guarding the Brandenburg Gate with a wire fence marking the border between East and West Berlin in 1961.Image:Brandenburg Gate 1961-08-13.jpg|The Brandenburg Gate on the day construction of the Berlin Wallmarker began, August 13 1961File:13.8 scharf.png|Guards line up in front of the Brandenburg Gate, closing of the border between the two parts of Germany.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-85458-0002, Berlin, Mauerbau, Kampfgruppen am Brandenburger Tor.jpg|Guards line up in front of the Brandenburg Gate on 14 August 1961.Image:Berlin-Baby-Wall-1968.jpg|From the East-Side 1968 the "Baby Wall" with flowers was the nearest point for visitors.Image:Brandenburg gate 1982.jpg|The Brandenburg Gate in 1982 viewed from the East Berlin side. Behind the gate is the Berlin Wallmarker and in the foreground is the rail that was accessible from East Berlin.File:Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F079009-0032, Berlin, Brandenburger Tor mit Berliner Mauer.jpg|The Wall in front of Brandenburg Gate in 1988.Image:Reagan_vor_dem_Brandenburger_Tor.png|Ronald Reagan giving a speech on June 12, 1987Image:Berlin wall Brandenburger Tor graffiti.jpg|A graffiti mural of The Brandenburg Gate on the East Side Gallerymarker of the Berlin Wallmarker (2008)

And down

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-1111-009, Berlin, Brandenburger Tor, Polizeiabsperrung.jpg|West Berlin police control the crowds which have gathered in front of Brandenburg Gate on 11 November 1989, two days after the fall of the Wall. East German guards stand on a raised platform on their side of the wall.Image:Thefalloftheberlinwall1989.JPG|Crowds gather after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.File:BrandenburgerTorDezember1989.jpg|Crowds gather after the fall of the Berlin Wall in December 1989. East Germans have been allowed to cross the "baby wall" and come close to the Outer Wall.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-1115-023, Berlin, Brandenburger Tor, vor Grenzöffnung.jpg|The media gathering to cover the fall of the Wall and anticipated opening of the Brandenberg Gate crossing in November 1989.Image:Crane removed part of Wall Brandenburg Gate.jpg|A crane removing a section of the Berlin Wallmarker beside the Brandenburg Gate in Dec 1989.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-1222-016, Berlin, Grenzöffnung Brandenburger Tor.jpg|Cranes removing parts of the Wall to create an opening for a new crossing in the early hours of opening day on 22 November 1989.File:BrandeburgGateOpening.jpg|East German Border Police Pamphlet announcing the opening of Brandenburg Gate as border checkpoint for pedestrians only.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-1222-034, Berlin, Grenzöffnung Brandenburger Tor.jpg|West German chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl, West Berlin mayor Walter Momper, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and East German president Dr. Hans Kodrow at the opening of the Brandenburg Gate crossing on 22 November 1989.File:KohlModrowMomperBrandenburgerTor.jpg|East German president Dr. Hans Kodrow, West German chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl and West Berlin mayor Walter Momper inside East German territory at the opening of Brandenburg Gate border crossing.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1989-1223-004, Berlin, Grenzübergang Brandenburger Tor.jpg|Getting passports stamped at the Brandenburg Gate crossing on opening day.File:GrenzsoldatenDDR1989.jpg|Police personnel (NCOs and enlisted men) of the East German Volkspolizei wait for the official opening of the Brandenburg Gate 22 December 1989.File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1990-0429-411, Berlin, Abriss der Mauer am Brandenburger Tor.jpg|Dismantling the Wall at Brandenburg Gate in April 1990.File:Mauer hinter Reichstag.jpg|Souvenir hunters chip off parts of the Wall in front of the Reichstag building in December 1989.File:BrandenburgerTor.1.jpg|Brandenburg Gate and where the Wall used to stand, marked by the row of cobblestones.

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