The Brandenburg Gate / Brandenburger Tor

Location: Berlin, Germany
Constructed: 1788-1791 (Quadriga added 1794)
Dimensions: 65ft. high, 213 ft. wide, 36 ft. deep

The Design

Built between 1788 and 1791 by Karl Gotthard Langhans, the Brandenburg Gate was modelled after the Propylaea from the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The Gate consists of six Doric columns on each side, forming five passages. The central passage is wider than the others, and was reserved for carriages of the Court. Atop the gate sits the Quadriga, a statue depicting the Greek goddess of Peace, Eirene, riding a four-horsed chariot, created by Johann Gottfried Schadow and added to the Gate in 1794.

History of the Gate

The Brandenburg Gate was built for the new King of Prussia, Frederick William II (1786-1797). It replaced the existing town gate and was the first of many neo-classical structures to be constructed in Berlin. The gate was opened to traffic on August 6, 1791.

In 1806 when Napoleon marched his French troops through Berlin, the Quadriga was taken from atop the gate and returned with the army to Paris where it was displayed in the Louvre. There it remained until the armies of Napoleon were defeated in 1814 and the Quadriga was returned to Berlin. Upon its return the statue was modified. Eirene, goddess of Peace, was replaced by Victoria, Roman goddess of victory and the laurel wreath, Iron Cross and Prussian Eagle were added.

During World War II the Gate was seriously damaged. In the 1950s the people of East and West Berlin worked together repairing the damage. The East repaired the Gate itself, while the West repaired the damaged Quadriga, which was again modified, this time removing the Iron Cross and Prussian Eagle because of their militaristic symbolism. On August 13, 1961, over 170 years after it was first opened to the public, the Gate was closed by armed forces when the Berlin Wall was erected. The Gate remained in no-man’s land until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Photos:
http://www.dailysoft.com/berlinwall/photographs/brandenburggate.htm
http://smythwad.best.vwh.net/page01.htm

Sources:
A History of the Modern World - R.R. Palmer and Joel Colton
Virtual Berlin - http://www.centsoft.com/VirtualBerlin/English/Brandenburger_Tor_Info_1.html
Berlin Tourist Guide - http://www.berlin-stadtfuehrung.de/berlin_history.htm
Brandenburg Gate - smythwad.best.vmh.net/histrybt.htm
Eirene, Greek Mythology - http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Eirene1.html

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