The Brandenburg Gate (German: Brandenburger Tor; [ˈbʁandn̩bʊɐ̯gɐ ˈtoːɐ̯]) is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II after the (temporarily) successful restoration of order during the early Batavian Revolution. One of the best-known landmarks of Germany, it was built on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel, which used to be capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg.
It is located in the western part of the city centre of Berlin within Mitte, at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. One block to the north stands the Reichstag building, which houses the German parliament (Bundestag). The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees, which led directly to the royal City Palace of the Prussian monarchs.
Throughout its existence, the Brandenburg Gate was often a site for major historical events and is today considered not only as a symbol of the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany, but also of European unityand peace.
Design and construction
In the time of Frederick William (1688), shortly after the Thirty Years’ War and a century before the gate was constructed, Berlin was a small walled city within a star fort with several named gates: Spandauer Tor, St. Georgen Tor, Stralower Tor, Cöpenicker Tor, Neues Tor, and Leipziger Tor (see map). Relative peace, a policy of religious tolerance, and status as capital of the Kingdom of Prussiafacilitated the growth of the city.
The Brandenburg Gate was not part of the old Berlin Fortress, but one of 18 gates within the Berlin Customs Wall(German: Akzisemauer), erected in the 1730s, including the old fortified city and many of its then suburbs.
The new gate was commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia to represent peace. The Gate was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, the Court Superintendent of Buildings, and built between 1788 and 1791, replacing the earlier simple guardhouses which flanked the original gate in the Customs Wall. The gate consists of twelve Doric columns, six to each side, forming five passageways. Citizens originally were allowed to use only the outermost two on each side. Atop the gate is a Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses, sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow. The new gate was originally named the Peace Gate (German: Friedenstor) and the goddess is Victoria, the goddess of victory.
The gate’s design is based upon the Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and is consistent with Berlin’s history of architectural classicism (first, Baroque, and then neo-Palladian). The gate was the first element of “Athens on the River Spree” by architect Langhans.
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