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Germany: Brandenburger Tor

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Brandenburger Tor | Germany | Europe

[Visited: November 2002 and before]

Originally, the Brandenburger Tor was one of many city gates, and the first one modelled after classical (Greek) architectural examples. It was first constructed in the end of the 18th century, and it was crowned by the Quadriga, a chariot with four horses and Victoria, goddess of victory and peace. When Napoleon defeated the Prussian army, he marched through the gate and took the Quadriga to Paris. The Quadriga and the Brandenburger Tor were transformed to symbols of national unity and independence.

Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Brandenburger Tor, Berlin

When Napoleon was defeated, the Quadriga was taken back to Berlin and again put on the Brandenburger Tor. In the mid-19th century, the Tor had become the symbol of Berlin, which is the reason why it was the only city gate left standing when all the others were torn down. During that century, the gate gradually turned into a triumphal arch for the Prussian army, and was regularly used for military parades. It was also the scene of the public revolt in 1848. In 1933, the Brandenburger Tor was used for a parade of the fascist regime when it assumed power.

Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Brandenburger Gate from Western side - Berlin

At the end of the war, the Brandenburger Tor was badly damaged, and the Quadriga completely destroyed, except for the head of one of the horses (which now is in a museum). The gate was restored in the 1950s, but while the Berlin Wall divided the city, the Brandenburger Tor was completely inaccessible, as it was right in the death strip. I still remember standing in East Berlin and trying to get a view of West Berlin through the gate in 1986. Between 1961 and 1989, the Brandenburger Tor became symbol of the division of the city, but when the wall finally fell, it was once again opened and became symbol of unity - so much so, that the it is featured on several of the German Euro coins. While the gate was open to public before, now it is a pedestrian zone.

Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Quadriga on top of Brandenburger Gate, Berlin
Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Brandenburger Tor, Berlin
Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Columns of Brandenburger Tor, Berlin
Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Detail of frieze inside Brandenburger Gate
Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Brandenburger Gate at sunset - Berlin
Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Quadriga on top of Brandenburger Tor, Berlin
Picture of Brandenburger Tor (Germany): Brandenburger Gate under construction - Berlin

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