The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is one of Germany's most famous landmarks. Standing 26 meters tall, it was commissioned by the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II and built by Carl G. Langhans between 1788 and 1791. After over 200 years of existence, the gate still stands as a symbol of the division then reunification of Germany and welcomes Berlin's visitors.
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most iconic landmarks in the German capital Berlin. It was built in the late eighteenth century on the orders of King Frederick William II, the ruler of Prussia, which state covered much of northern and eastern Germany at that time. Frederick William commissioned it as a monument to peace in Germany in the 1780s. The monument was designed and built under the direction of the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans between 1788 and 1791. It is Neo-Classical in its design, meaning that Langhans was heavily influenced by the design of buildings from classical history, such as the Acropolis in Athens, but while incorporating these elements in a novel fashion. It consists of twelve Doric columns in two rows of six with five passageways in between. Atop of the gate stands a statue which was sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow of a quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses.
Originally the gate was called the Peace Gate, but it was soon associated with war and conflict. Just as it was being built in the late 1780s, the French Revolution was beginning to the west in Paris. Eventually in the years that followed, this led to the establishment of a French Republic and then an empire headed by the French general Napoleon Bonaparte. In the 1800s, Napoleon attempted to conquer Europe effectively. In the course of this, his armies won a great victory over Prussia at the Battle of Jena in 1806. In celebration, Napoleon conducted a celebratory procession through Berlin and under the monument’s arches. He also had the quadriga sculpture removed from the top and taken to Paris, though it was finally restored in 1814 after the Prussians and others had defeated Napoleon and conquered France.
Later in the twentieth century, the Nazis used the monument as the centerpiece of parades in Berlin. Incredibly the Gate was still standing after the fall of Berlin in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. The columns were riddled with bullet holes, and most of the quadriga was destroyed, but it was still intact. This was partly because the Nazi high command had commissioned a decoy gate to be built several kilometers away, which fooled Allied bombers flying missions over the city about where the city center was.
The quadriga was replaced after the war, and eventually, the holes in the columns were repaired even as the monument was cast onto the frontlines of a divided Berlin during the Cold War. Today the monument is perhaps the most iconic site in Berlin, standing on the west side of Pariser Platz and within eyesight of the Reichstag and the Tiergarten.